Chui says ‘not enough’ done to face killer typhoon

2017-08-25 08:05     Comment:1

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On yesterday accepted the resignation of Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) Director Fong Soi Kun over the latter’s controversial handling of the Hato disaster on Wednesday. He also apologised for the government’s insufficient response to the disaster.

Addressing a special press conference yesterday evening, Chui said that Fong submitted his resignation yesterday morning for “personal reasons”, adding that he had accepted it.

Fong had headed the weather bureau since the late 1990s.

The government hosted the press conference at Government Headquarters to announce what measures the government is carrying out and what it plans do to restore the typhoon-hit city to normal. The press conference was attended by Chui and 14 other senior officials.

At the beginning of the press conference, Chui and the other officials bowed their heads during a minute’s silence for the eight people who died in Wednesday’s onslaught.

Meanwhile, the government said in a statement late last night that the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) flag flying from government buildings, border checkpoints, the airport, port facilities, and its offices in other regions and countries will be flown at half-mast today, in mourning for the eight typhoon victims – six males and two females.

The eight victims, aged between 30 and 70, comprise seven locals and a mainlander. Three died in their shops in the Inner Harbour area, two drowned in a submerged car park of a residential building in Patane district, one fell from his flat onto the podium of a residential building, one was hit by a coach and one was killed when the wind blew down a wall.

Chui revealed Fong’s resignation at the beginning of the press conference.

Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan said during the press conference that Fong also applied to retire when he handed in his resignation.

Official sources said that Fong was close to retirement age.

When asked by the media if Fong would face disciplinary action, Chan said the decision would be made by the policy secretary who oversees the bureau. Chui said that after Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosario returns to Macau he would handle the possible disciplinary proceedings.

Residents have blamed Fong for having failed to warn them in time about the severity of the approaching typhoon.

During the press conference, Macau Foundation (FM) Acting President Au Weng Chi said that his foundation would provide a string of subsidies to those affected by Hato.

According to Au, each bereaved family will be given 300,000 patacas.

Each injured person who received treatment in one of the city’s three hospitals on Wednesday or yesterday can apply for their medical
fees to be covered by the foundation, Au said, adding that the maximum each applicant can receive will be 30,000 patacas. They will need to register before next Thursday.

The three hospitals are the public Conde de Sao Januario Hospital Centre, the private Kiang Wu Hospital, as well as the private Macau University of Science and Technology Hospital.

Fire Services Bureau (CB) Commissioner Leong Iok Sam said during the press conference that 244 people were injured during the typhoon.

According to Au, residents living on lower floors who were affected by the typhoon-induced flooding or residents whose windows were damaged during the typhoon could apply for a subsidy of up to 30,000 patacas before September 30.

Au said that residents who were affected by the electricity blackout and water supply stoppage would be compensated in their bills – 1,000 patacas from Macao Water and 1,000 patacas from CEM.

Au also said the public foundation had imported over 100,000 bottles of water and was distributing them to residents in need.

Au said the measures and subsidies would cost the foundation 1.35 billion patacas.

Meanwhile, the government’s Industrial and Commercial Development Fund will launch an interestfree loan scheme for the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by Hato, Economic Services Bureau (DSE) Director Tai Kin Ip said during the press conference.

The maximum for the interestfree loan that each business owner can apply for will be 600,000 patacas, Tai said.

Tai said the fund would also offer a subsidy of up to 30,000 patacas for businesses affected by the typhoon.

Tai said that 2.6 billion patacas would be used for the interest-free loans and subsidies.

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said during the press conference that many schools were affected by the severe flooding. He said that some of the schools would not be able to open at the beginning of next month for the new academic term.

Tam also said the city’s cultural heritage properties only suffered minor damage. However, Tam said that several libraries run by the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) had been flooded, adding that it would take some time to repair the damage before all of them could reopen to the public.

The Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) hoisted typhoon signal No. 10 at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday after it had hoisted
the No. 9 signal at 10:45 a.m. The bureau had hoisted the No. 8 signal at 9 a.m. The bureau had given Typhoon Hato the No. 3 signal until just a few hours before it hit Macau.

All typhoon signals were lowered at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Hato was the first No. 10 signal typhoon to hit the city since the establishment of the MSAR on December 20, 1999.

The No. 9 signal was last hoisted in the city in 2012.

It was the first time that even the lower enclosed deck of Sai Van Bridge needed to be closed to traffic during a typhoon. The government closed the bridge’s lower enclosed deck at 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday. The deck reopened at 3 p.m. after the typhoon signal had been lowered to No. 8

Pointing out that Hato was the strongest typhoon to have hit Macau in 53 years, Chui pledged that the government would strive to get residents’ lives back to normal as soon as possible.

Despite “proper preparations”, Chui admitted that the government had not “done enough”, adding there was room for improvement regarding the forecasting of typhoons, the way the government informs residents about the possible threats of typhoons, and the response work.

“These two days, we have faced an extremely difficult test together. Hato was the strongest typhoon in 53 years and has brought tremendous damage to Macau,” Chui said.

“In facing this disaster, we admit that he have not done enough, there is room for improvement. Here I represent the MSAR government in expressing our apologies to the residents,” Chui said.

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On (centre, front) and other senior officials bow their heads during a minute’s silence for Macau’s eight Typhoon Hato victims at the beginning of yesterday’s press conference at Government Headquarters. Photo: Tony Wong


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