New committee to review disaster response

2017-08-29 08:05     Comment:0

The government has set up a committee with the aim of reviewing its existing mechanism to tackle disasters and coming up with measures to improve the mechanism, according to an announcement in the Official Gazette (BO) yesterday.

The committee consists of the chief executive, secretary for administration and justice, secretary for economy and finance, secretary for security, secretary for social affairs and culture, secretary for transport and public works, the commissioner-general of the Unitary Police Service (SPU) and the director-general of the Macau Customs Service, according to yesterday’s gazette.

Cumbersomely named the Committee for the Review of the Mechanism for Responding to Major Disasters and its Follow-up and Improvement, it is chaired by the chief executive.

The setting-up of the committee came after Typhoon Hato hit Macau on Wednesday. The super-typhoon killed 10 and injured 244. The government’s admittedly insufficient response to the disaster shocked local residents and forced the government to ask, for the first time, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Macau Garrison for help – a move widely welcomed by the population.
(More on p. 3)

According to yesterday’s gazette, the committee aims to review the government’s existing crisis-management mechanism, including weather forecasting, coordination of civil protection work and dissemination of information, as well as the state of the relevant infrastructures. The committee also aims to come up with a comprehensive plan for crisis management in the future.

According to Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On’s executive order on establishing the committee with immediate effect, it can invite experts, scholars and civic leaders to attend its meetings if needed.

The Chief Executive Office (GCE) said in a statement that Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On chaired the committee’s first meeting yesterday.

During the meeting, Chui ordered the participating officials to listen to civil society’s views regarding the government’s response
to the Hato disaster as well as the government’s review of its mechanism for responding to disasters, according to the statement.

Victor Chan Chi Ping, the government’s chief spokesman, told reporters yesterday that the functions of the new committee were different to those of the Committee for Responding to Unforeseen Incidents, which was established in 2012.

Chan made the remarks during a special conference about the government’s ongoing disaster relief measures after the Hato onslaught.
The press conference, cohosted by Chan and a raft of other officials, was held at the Government Information Bureau (GCS)
in Nam Van. Chan, who heads the bureau, made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question whether the functions of the new
committee would overlap those the committee set up in 2012.

According to the gazette, the Committee for Responding to Unforeseen Incidents is to coordinate and supervise the relevant government entities for tackling natural disasters, major accidents, severe public health incidents and severe public security incidents.

Ron Lam U Tou, a current affairs commentator, told reporters yesterday he doubted whether the new committee would be effective.
He noted that the committee only consists of government officials, adding that the structure of the new committee may prevent it from effectively reviewing the existing disaster response mechanism and coming up with useful suggestions on how the mechanism
can be improved.

Lam spoke to reporters after handling a petition, addressed to Chui, to an official outside Government Headquarters. The petition
urged the government to review its regulations concerning the hoisting of typhoon signals. The petition also urged the government
to launch disciplinary proceedings against the former director of the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG), Fong Soi Kun, and other SMG officials “responsible for failing to warn” residents about the ferocity of Typhoon Hato.

Last week, Chui accepted Fong’s resignation over the latter’s controversial handling of the Hato disaster. Official sources have said that Fong’s resignation came “not long before” his scheduled retirement.

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On (centre) chairs yesterday’s meeting of the new Committee for the Review of the Mechanism for Responding to Major Disasters and its Follow-up and Improvement. The caption provided by the Government Information Bureau (GCS) did not say where the meeting was held. Photo: GCS


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