Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

It’s the season of discontent for Stanley Ho and Pac On

Posted by Kimberly on November 22, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
November 22, 2007 (558 words)

The announcement to the media of Dr Ho’s press conference yesterday evening came just hours before the event at the Grand Lisboa, where the Macau casino magnate pointed out the apparent inconsistencies of the license awarded to Cotai WaterJet and Grand Dragon to operate Pac On Ferry Terminal, ferrying passengers between Taipa and Hong Kong.

Quoting his interpretation of Macau’s Gaming Law No. 16/2001 (Legal Framework for the Operations of Casino Games of Fortune), he stated that “the scope of activities permitted to gaming concessionaires shall be exclusively the operation of the games of fortune and chance and other casino games.”

As a result, he added, “since shipping is not within the scope of gaming business, the grant of a ferry operation license to a gaming concessionaire is in conflict with the law and the rationale behind such a law.”

He felt that without a legally binding and “transparent tender procedure”, the granting of the license lacked “fairness, justice and openness.”

Yet, if one were to read the Law in its entirety, it makes it difficult to be entirely confident of Dr Ho’s statement of exclusivity.

According to Article 3(6) of the Law, operations offered to the public were excluded from casino concessions but with an exception.

Yet Article 3 (7) states, “in exceptional cases, the secretary for economy and finance can, through a dispatch, authorise concessionaires to explore “operations” offered to the public, allowing for a review of the contract [between the government and the concessionaire] and the signing of the change in the contract.”

Without detailed knowledge of whether such an authorisation took place between the government and the ferry operators, a definitive statement could not be made.

According to Portuguese newspaper Hoje Macau, North West Express (Macau), a company that had bid for the license, appealed against the decision of granting the license to the aforementioned operators to the Court of Second Appeal on November 16.

Interestingly, last week its parent company North West Express Limited in Hong Kong announced plans to appeal for a suspension of the operation through the Housing and Transport Department, which also authorises the maritime routes.

Neither Macau or Hong Kong were offered a pubic consultation period when it came to deciding on the operators, according to Jornal Tribuna de Macau (JTM).

Dr Ho expressed his discontent with the situation stating that, “quite a number of qualified and experienced shipping companies have shown their interest to operate at the Pac On Terminal and have also submitted applications to the government,” adding that the license had been granted “to a concessionaire that had no experience in shipping operations.”

He went on to mention that “other gaming concessionaires in Macau” held the same view, but declined to point out whom exactly.

His statement ended with the suggestion that the government “first carry out surveys in relation to the future development of Macau and future demand of the Hong Kong-Macau shipping service…”

This would ideally be followed by “a proper tender procedure, which will include a consultation period with the current route’s shipping operators,” adding a suggestion for a timeline for the terminal’s operations.

Managing Director of Shun Tak Holdings and Dr Ho’s daughter, Pansy Ho, whose company currently operates a ferry service between Macau and Hong Kong, had also expressed her discontent with the Pac On Ferry Terminal license on previous occasions.


 

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