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CCAC slams public works, cultural affairs officials for failing to protect llha Verde

The Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) slammed the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) for having failed to strictly comply with the Urban Planning Law when it approved private development projects in llha Verde district.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

The Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) slammed in a statement Monday the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) for having failed to strictly comply with the Urban Planning Law when it approved private development projects in llha Verde district.

The anti-graft body also criticised the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) for its failure to fulfil its statutory duty to ensure the protection of the cultural heritage-listed llha Verde Hill which includes a former convent and barracks.

According to the statement, the CCAC launched an investigation last year into the suspected invalidity of the ownership of a plot of land on llha Verde Hill after receiving a number of complaints. The investigation also included the alleged failure of the respective government entities to carry out statutorily required measures for the protection of the hill and the urban planning of the area.

“The CCAC received complaints from a number of associations last year, expressing doubts about the process of the acquisition of the ownership, delineation and area measurements of the plot on llha Verde Hill, and requesting an investigation by the CCAC,” the statement said.

“The complainants also suspected that the respective government entities failed to carry out sufficient measures for the protection of llha Verde Hill and for its urban planning process so that thehill has been damaged,” the statement said, adding that the findings of the CCAC investigation showed that the Cultural Affairs Bureau and the DSSOPT failed to strictly comply with the relevant rules in the Cultural Heritage Protection Law and in the Urban Planning Law respectively, when dealing with the protection of the hill and the urban planning of the area.

According to the statement, the CCAC investigation did not, however, discover any evidence that the acquisition of the plot was illegal.

According to official land registry records cited by the statement, the llha Verde Hill plot consists of the hill proper and some areas around it, covering 56,166 square metres. The hill makes up most of the plot.

The llha Verde Hill plot was first registered in 1886 by the Macau Catholic Diocese, which later leased part of it to llha Verde Cement Company Limited for the construction and operation of a cement plant for 25 years, the statement said. The diocese sold the plot to Kong Cheong (Macau) Development and Investment Company Limited for 95 million patacas in 1991. Kong Cheong sold the plot to Wui San Development Company Limited — the current owner of the plot – for HK$ 188.3 million in 2007, the statement said.

The CCAC statement noted that an urban development plan for llha Verde district was first announced by the city’s then Portuguese administration in 1996.

The Macau Special Administrative Region’s (MSAR) llha Verde Urban Development Plan was drafted in 2010 and amended in 2014 in the wake of the Cultural Heritage Protection Law coming into force at that time.

llha Verde Hill is a listed cultural heritage site.

In 2017, amendments to parts of the plan were completed, resulting in a smaller allowable construction area and lower maximum building height on some parts of the plot.

The statement noted that the 2017 revision failed to involve a statutorily required public consultation process and was never officially released to the public, violating the Urban Planning Law’s principles of transparency and promotion of public participation.

The statement also said that DSSOPT officials’ overall handling of the matter had violated the Urban Planning Law.

The statement also said that the Cultural Affairs Bureau’s failure to protect llha Verde Hill had left it “in a state of chaos and degradation”.

The hill includes a former Catholic convent and abandoned Portuguese army barracks.

llha Verde (“Green Island”) was connected to the peninsula in 1895 when a causeway was built and land around the island was reclaimed from the sea. llha Verde Hill (Co-lina da llha Verde) has a height of 54.5 metres.

The CCAC combines the functions of a graft-fighting agency and an ombudsman.(Macaunews)

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

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