Six-month ban for non-resident workers

THE Executive Council announced changes to the six-month ban for non-resident workers, but the extent of the amendments was smaller that some had expected. Introduced in 2010 as part of the new law on imported labor, the ban is applied when a contract of a non-resident worker is terminated before its completion and the Human Resources Office decides that there was just cause.
This rule was strongly criticized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and by human rights reports issued by the U.S. government. Both mentioned that the six-month ban illustrates a case of discrimination against migrant workers. After some public uproar, the Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam hinted towards the end of 2011 that the government was considering relaxing the ban on allowing non-resident workers to change jobs immediately if they keep on working in the same industry.
That seems to be what is about to happen now. It is being proposed by the government that non-resident workers are not subject to the six-month ban when the contract is terminated by mutual agreement, their work permit is canceled, or the worker is dismissed by the employer without just cause or quits on their own initiative with just cause. In those cases, workers are entitled to work during the following six months in an identical work category to the one that was authorized in the previous work permit.
The interpretation of the Human Resources Office on the Law for the Employment of Non-Resident Workers was reportedly stricter when the bill was introduced. According to numbers provided by the Immigration Department of the Public Security Police, between April 11 and October 11 2011, a total of 1,636 non-resident workers saw their work permits (known as ‘blue cards’) canceled and were subjected to the six-month ban. This meant that nine people were expelled daily from Macau (on average) during those six months. Migrant associations said recently that not so many “blue card” holders are being affected by the ban. With the need for human resources on the rise, the authorities are now relaxing the application of the rule.
One can understand that the government didn’t have discriminatory purposes in mind when the ban was introduced. It serves to punish workers who fail to keep their contracts. Since they are “non-resident” workers, they don’t have the right to reside, so they are banned because they were not competent enough, or they didn’t adequately meet their responsibilities.
In theory this may be good, but in practice it’s poor. In the “real world”, the decision to ban workers brings serious consequences to the lives of many
hard-working “blue-card” holders. It’s the Human Resources Office that decides whether the termination of a contract had just cause or not. This means that an administrative decision may lead a worker to be ousted for at least six months. Moreover it’s questionable that decisions with such far-reaching consequences are taken by an administrative body not subject to judicial review. Of course the worker can complain to the Labor Affairs Bureau, but few do that, since they only have ten days to leave Macau before they “overstay” (and are forced to pay a fine for each day they remain illegally).
I don’t doubt the good intentions of the Human Resources Office but what happens in the “real world” is that many Filipino and Indonesian workers (to mention the two larger communities affected) are banned, and if they want to return after six months (many do), they need to pay large amounts of money to agencies that are unregulated with practices near enough to human trafficking.
Wouldn’t it be better to scrap the six-month ban and provide information to employers in case they intend to hire a non-resident worker who’s been fired with just cause? This way, it would be up to them to decide whether to hire or not. And wouldn’t it also be better to rethink the “non resident” law? I know of cases of people who have worked in Macau for 15 years and are “non-residents”. Where do they reside then? Macau is small and not all can be permanent residents. But the right to non-permanent residency should be extended, as happens in Hong Kong.
Macau could (and should) be more generous.
(in MDT)



UM artigo muito bem feito sobre os 30 anos do JTM. Para ler e reflectir, no Hoje Macau. Em complemento, no Ponto Final foi publicada uma entrevista ao director do jornal, José Rocha Dinis.

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Tribute to most renowned Macanese writer, new novel launched

HENRIQUE de Senna Fernandes’ work is being republished by the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC). Yesterday, to mark the 89th anniversary of the birth of the late Macanese writer, IC and the Rui Cunha Foundation co-organized a tribute. The session was a pretext to launch the book “Os Dores” and re-publish “Amor e Dedinhos de Pé” (“Love and Tiny Toes”), as part of the public presentation of the collection “The Complete Works of Henrique de Senna Fernandes”.
Besides the Portuguese language version in which the original texts were written, IC will republish the novel “The Bewitching Braid” in both English and Chinese. “With these books, the ‘soul’ of Henrique de Senna Fernandes’ Macau is revealed to us again. Through them, we hear what the writer is telling, we share the ups and downs of the characters’ lives and we walk through memorable moments of Macau’s history,” IC president Ung Vai Meng told during the tribute.
The author’s son, Miguel de Senna Fernandes, presented the unpublished manuscript “Os Dores”. The author did not revise the book, and the editor’s criteria were “to respect to full extent the peculiar writing of Henrique de Senna Fernandes”. The lawyer and president of the Macanese Association explained that the novel takes place at the beginning of the 20th century. “Macau was a very simple and calm place. It was a city that doesn’t exist any longer. (…) The community was Catholic and ultra-conservative and many people lived for the sake of keeping a certain image,” described the younger Senna Fernandes.  
The lawyer stressed that his father “had the ability to create nostalgia,” even “for people who did not live the episodes that he describes”. He said that the richer characters in his praised novels and short stories “are the ones that suffer”, especially the women, who are the “heroes” of his plots.
Miguel de Senna Fernandes added that new originals are still yet to be published and that he recently found what seems to be a sequel to “Os Dores” in his father’s notebooks. IC states in a editor’s note included in the novel that new original Henrique de Senna Fernandes works will be published, including “the long awaited ‘O Pai das Orquídeas’”. After the presentation by the author’s son, several personalities who were closely acquainted with the writer said a few words about his life and work.
(in MDT)

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Miguel de Senna Fernandes

miguel de senna fernandes, originally uploaded by BARBOSA BRIOSA.

Born on October 15 1923 to one of the oldest Macanese families, Henrique de Senna Fernandes completed his secondary education at the Liceu de Macau and went to Portugal to study law in Coimbra. His literary feats started at the Portuguese university town, when he won a prize for the short story “A-Chan, the Tanka Girl”. Returning to Macau in 1954, he opened a legal office in the “San Malou” area and simultaneously started a teaching career at the Pedro Nolasco da Silva Commercial School. He contributed to several local newspapers and magazines and left a literary legacy including acclaimed works like “Love and Tiny Toes” and “The Bewitching Braid”.  He died just over two years ago, on October 4.


QUE grande entrevista do Manuel António Pina, que morreu...

"Na infância os poetas invejam a capacidade de ver pela primeira vez. A poesia é também uma forma de olhar de novo. A infância é mítica porque é a capacidade de olhar profundamente pela primeira vez."



Bikes are the way to go

COUNTRIES like the Netherlands take full advantage of a transport system that’s really ecological. The ‘fiets’ – bikes in Dutch - are omnipresent and everybody uses them, from the executive wearing a suit and tie to the mother carrying her two sons and the granny buying her groceries at the market.
When I lived in Utrecht I had the privilege of breathing clean air in the city center, even during rush hour when people leave their offices and head home. During those peak hours, the roads were crowded only in the lanes dedicated to bikes. There were few cars, since parking is expensive and the use of private vehicles for short trips is not encouraged. The Utrecht residents who live in the beautiful outskirts of the city - where gardens and parks abound – and who don’t have the time to use their bikes can use the ecological buses that pass by frequently and are comparatively silent. This doesn’t mean that people don’t own cars. In a country where the minimum wage is around MOP 15,000 for those above 23, locals can afford to own a private vehicle. But they use them in a rational way, for long trips and purposes that demand an automobile’s amenities.
The fact is that the Netherlands has set up a smart and eco friendly transport system heavily reliant on bikes and public transport, like trains (where, of course, people can carry their ‘fiets’), and buses. Everywhere you go there’s space to park a bike (although heavily locked, since many are stolen) and cycling lanes run uninterrupted all over the country. Because of this, people not only use two wheels to go about their daily business, but also for leisure. During my weekends in Utrecht, I used to take the blue Peugeot (the notorious brand of my very basic bike) for long rides in the countryside, sometimes crossing up to 50 kilometers of postcard landscape in one day. It’s a form of exercise that’s good for the body and the mind, so they say. The sports-loving Dutch don’t need the gym to improve their fitness. They cycle. 
Macau could also be a “bike region”, although the weather here is quite different from the Dutch climate (almost never too hot, sometimes too cold - but one gets used to cycling when it’s snowing - perfect weather for bike users) and the roads are narrower than the usual Dutch roads. But what seems impractical can sometimes become reality and many more measures could be implemented. So far, Macau has taken very shy steps (if any) towards encouraging bike usage.
The few cycle lanes that exist in Taipa don’t make up for the increase in the number of cars and the plentiful SUVs and other high cylinder vehicles that circle around this small region. Stating that it is not mandated to define a limit for the number of cars circulating in Macau, the Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA) has pledged to eliminate “vehicles that produce a high amount of pollution” and increase the use of electric cars (but nothing has been done - it seems that there are only three electric cars in town). As to bikes, Macau’s 2010/2020 Environmental Protection Plan states that “the public transport system should be optimized, trough the LRT, ecological buses and taxis, usage of bicycles and a pedestrian system,” all of this coordinated with “strategies of limited usage of cars in certain areas”.
But we need more than just words. For a long China was a country where bikes were widely used. With the economic boom, many have now stopped using them. Nevertheless authorities in the major cities see that this is causing a dependency on the automobile and are now improving amenities for millions of cyclists. In Beijing, according to a recent China Daily article, the number of car owners has been on the rise. In 1997 there were one million car owners, and by early 2011 that number reached 5 million. Estimates indicate that bikes account for 16 percent of the traffic flow, less than the 30 percent recorded in 2005. But the authorities want to improve the cycle lanes, assuming “their determination to bring back the most people-friendly mode of transport as part of the city’s development plan”. It’s also time to think about this in Macau, so that we can all enjoy better air quality and health. (in MDT)

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(e podia ter sido filmado em Macau)



SOBRE o El País, um dos meus jornais preferidos




É por estas, e por muitas outras, que eu e o Ricardo Felner somos da mesma escola. Subscrevo tudo, meu caro amigo:

"Num processo de despedimento, como o do Público, não é indiferente quem se escolhe para ir embora. E é preciso que se deixe isto bem claro: as pessoas inscritas na lista da directora, Bárbara Reis, não são os piores jornalistas da redacção. Eu conheço-os a todos.

São os jornalistas de quem BR não é amiga, que não a acompanham no jornalismo arty, nem nas tertúlias do Chiado. São os jornalistas que

não debatem diariamente com BR sobre artes plásticas, arquitectura japonesa e direitos humanos de povos remotos e exóticos. São os jornalistas que ousaram criticar as opções editoriais de BR, dentro do Conselho de Redacção. São os jornalistas que defendem um jornal feito de jornalismo e de notícias, e não apenas de crítica, opinião e ensaio. São os jornalistas chatos, como devem ser os bons jornalistas. São os jornalistas sem medo de enfrentar o poder, seja o poder de grupos económicos, como os que BR contratou para mecenas, seja o poder político, como o protagonizado por Miguel Relvas no episódio que levou à saída da jornalista Maria José Oliveira.

A crise existe, não há dinheiro, o negócio dos jornais está arruinado - parece evidente. Mas este despedimento colectivo de 36 jornalistas não é simplesmente uma reestruturação ou uma redução de custos. É uma limpeza. E uma vergonha.

O Público era um oásis de liberdade, de seriedade, de loucura. BR deu-lhe uma machadada severa. Vai ficar na tristemente na história, entre outras coisas, como a pessoa que quis despedir José António Cerejo, o jornalista mais marcante do nosso tempo.

Os leitores hão-de cobrar o despudor, estou certo disso. Mas nessa altura, porventura, será demasiado tarde. Para os meus amigos do Público, para os meus camaradas, para todos nós.

Até lá, é resistir. Ninguém sairá incólume."

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MONK swinging, maybe the best live Jazz footage ever taken:

Lulu's Back In Town (Warren & Dubin) 0:00
Don't Blame Me (McHugh & Fields) 17:44
Epistrophy (Monk) 23:11



Ai Weiwei on china

AFTER being detained without explanation for three months last year, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was the subject of an international solidarity campaign. Posters with his picture and the inscription “free Ai Weiwei” became widespread whenever members of the Chinese government attended meetings outside the country. Beijing’s uneasiness dealing in with this case was almost similar to when Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, which he was prevented from receiving personally in Oslo.
The solidarity campaign towards Ai Weiwei was not only international. After Ai’s design company Fake Cultural Development Ltd. was accused of tax evasion – a charge that was interpreted by many as retaliation against his activism – many Chinese supporters sent him money so that he could submit a financial guarantee of USD1.3 million in order to get a review of his case.
He did so, but last week Beijing’s No. 2 Intermediate Court rejected a second and final appeal, ruling that the artist will have to pay over 15 million yuan (USD2.4 million) demanded by tax officials. The artist said he doesn’t intend to pay the fine. Surrounded by journalists outside the court, he made some bold, blatant statements about China’s judicial system. It’s was good to see a man who speaks his mind, although probably what he said was not broadcast in the mainland.
“What surprises me is that this society, which is developing at such a rapid rate today, still has the most barbaric and backward legal system. I think it’s a bad omen,” he said, adding that the authorities denied him his legal rights and failed to follow basic procedures.
Despite having no passport and being barred from leaving the country, Ai Weiwei’s notoriety seems to have gained him the right to speak what he thinks. That’s more than many of his fellow citizens can claim.
Son of Ai Qing, regarded as one of the best Chinese modern poets, the young Ai Weiwei knew the barbaric consequences of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. His father was forbidden to write and exiled to the remote Xinjiang province. That’s where he spent his youth, while Ai Qing was given tasks like cleaning public toilets and had to burn “all his books because he could have got into trouble”. Back in Beijing, he learnt how to draw with some of his father’s friends and immersed himself in Beijing’s repressed art scene. In 1982 he had the opportunity to move to New York, where he befriended artists and poets like the great Allen Ginsberg.
When he returned to China, in 1993, because of his father’s ill health, he was not the same person. He had absorbed the influences of the New York art scene and became one of China’s freest voices. Working with several media, he saw the Internet as a means to artistic expression and opened a popular and short-lived blog where he wrote about everything. Commenting on the English translation of the blog, the art critic Hans Ulrich Obrist says, “It is a book about life and culture in China. It is about love, sex, identity, interviews, food, the tension between history and modernity, Olympics, music, TV, shopping, death, the government, religion, etc. Ai Weiwei has weaved an unbelievable net of thoughts and words.” There are no taboos with Ai Weiwei, that’s why he is a precious thinker and artist.   
Here are some ideas on his blog and China, that he shared with Hans Ulrich Obrist, published in the book ‘Ai Weiwei Speaks’: “I’ve already published over two hundred articles, interviews and writings, commentaries about art, politics, newspaper cuttings, etc., on it. I find that it is the most interesting gift to me, because we live in a society where self-expression is not encouraged and can even damage you, as it has two generations of writers. People are afraid to write anything down; any words put on paper can be used as evidence of a crime.”
(PB, Macau Daily Times)

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