Macau Legislator Jose Coutinho in Calif.
In late October, at the invitation of Far East Currents and the Lusitano Club of California, Macau Legislative Assembly member Jose’ Pereira Coutinho spoke to faculty, students, and Casa de Macau members at Cal State Northridge and U.C. Berkeley.
Dr. Coutinho, who leads a 13,000 member union and has been elected by popular vote to the Legislature three times since 2005, began with wide ranging presentations on Macau 14 years after the handover to China. After noting the influence of casino gaming, which makes up 80% of Macau’s revenues and is currently 7 times greater than Las Vegas, Coutinho focused on the impact gaming is now having on Macau’s population.
Pointing to monopolies on basic products, and budgetary excesses on many levels, Coutinho expressed concern about Macau’s reliance on gaming at the expense of commercial development. He also highlighted a lack of leadership training and critical thinking among Macau’s youth, a lack of understanding about Macau’s history, which is not taught in schools, and the isolation of Macanese from the rest of the community in other countries.
One solution, Coutinho argued, was the development of closer ties with regions where Macanese now live. Calling for education and business exchanges, strategic programs that would bring skilled experts to Macau, partnerships between foreign and Chinese companies, and exposure to better training and planning, Coutinho suggested that such initiatives would be favorably viewed by mainland China and the rest of the world.
As a result of Dr. Coutinho’s proposals, representatives of several Casas de Macau will be meeting with him during the Encontro this December to discuss further steps.