Decade of progress in Macao

2009-12-20 16:43 BJT

Special Report: Macao 10 Years On |


With a population of 540-thousand and an area of less than 30 square kilometers, Macao is a small city in terms of both natural and human resources. Despite this, Macao has made remarkable progress since its return to the motherland in 1999. Let's look at some major achievements Macao has gained in the past decade.
Comparing pictures of 10 years ago with today's ones, the changes in Macao are obvious and clear. Data reveals Macao's GDP increased by 13.2 percent in 2008, the eighth successive year of double-digit growth.

In the past 50 years only three countries in the world, China, Japan and Singapore, witnessed sustained double-digit growth for five consecutive years or longer.

More impressively, the per capital GDP of Macao residents last year reached 39-thousand US dollars, making it one of the richest cities in the world.
That figure is almost three times the average before its return to China 10 years ago.

People in Macao are enjoying tangible benefits from the achievements.
In 2004, residents were recognized by the World Health Organization as one of the healthiest in the world.

The promotion of education policies saw Macao became the only region in Asia to introduce 15-year free education.

Stanley Ho Hung San, Member of the National Committee, CPPCC, said, "I've lived in Macao for 68 years. Today it is so prosperous and busy. I've never seen anything like it before."

Lee Seong Ju, Boadrd Chairman, Macao Daily News, said, "To sum up, the development of Macao in the past decade surpassed the development achieved in the previous hundreds of years."

Macao's economic miracle was gained in the decade since China resumed exercise of sovereignty over the region. But it was a different story prior to Macao's return.

There was a breakdown in public order, and a period of economic stagnation that lasted years.

Crime was increasing as the "return" to China approached. There were fewer tourists -- which its economy is reliant on.
And, for a time the international media referred to Macao as the "sleeping city".

Macao Resident, said, "At Sanzhanding and Heishahuan, criminals attacked people with watermelon knives."
"Absolute chaos. People were killed."

In the days immediately after China's resumption of exercise of sovereignty, Macao police launched a campaign in a bid to restore public order. These rusting weapons confiscated by the police are a frightening reminder of the street violence which was commonplace at the time.

Wong Sio Chak, Director Judiciary Police, Macao SAR, said, "Before the return to the motherland, gangsters often used such weapons in battle. AK47's were even used. That event created shock waves in Hong Kong and Macao because the gangsters used such heavy weapons in broad daylight. Nothing like it had ever happened before."

The changes were immediate and tangible. Macao is now considered "one of the safest places in the world."

In retrospect, the turning points in the economic and security situations occurred at virtually the same time.