Another time, another placeBy admin Dec 14, 2009 9:11AM UTC
Ten years after the handover, what does Macau look like today, asks Asia Sentinel
As Macau observes the 10th anniversary of its return to China later this month, a recent poll undertaken by the University of Macau showed that 96 percent of the people were “satisfied” with developments since the evening of Dec. 20, 1999, when the Portuguese flag was lowered for the last time after more than 400 years.
Indeed, the enclave’s 500,000 people have good reasons to feel satisfied, for the most part, with their lot. The economy has been in a decade-long boom due to the expansion of the gambling sector. The inaugural chief executive, Edmund Ho provided boringly stable good governance and avoided most of the missteps that accompanied his Hong Kong counterpart’s early years in office.
Macau’s last years under Portuguese administration had been a time of strain, partly due to the then faltering economy but also to a spate of gangland murders connected with the casinos, which led many in Macau to cheer the arrival of the People’s Liberation Army garrison on the following day. (In fact, the garrison has stayed mostly invisible).
Recently, I returned to Macau after an absence of six years in order to update my guide book, Explore Macau: A Walking Guide and History, first published in 2002 and now being reissued next month by Blacksmith Books in Hong Kong. One can’t help but be staggered by the physical changes that have taken place.