Macau probes gambling industry over weather forecast blunder
Did the gambling industry play a role in delaying the storm warning at the height of Typhoon Hato?
Macau authorities are now digging deeper into a recent report published in the South China Morning Post that ‘casino factor’ was the root cause behind the delays to the storm warnings.
ShanghaiDaily.com reported that Fernando Chui, chief executive of Macau, has formed a commission and special taskforce to review and handle Macau’s response system for major disasters.
A team of graft busters, on the other hand, was formed to probe the city’s weather bureau over its handling of Typhoon Hato. The report said that the probers will include the gaming industry in their investigation.
According to reports, some casino operators and the state weather bureau colluded in delaying the storm signal in order for the former to be able to save overtime expenses. Former Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau chief Fong Soi-Kun, who stepped down from his post last Thursday, was now being investigated over corruption charges.
Under Macau’s labor code, casino operators are mandated to give overtime pay to all of their staff when typhoon No. 8 is hoisted. Macau’s gambling industry employs tens of thousands of people over the past 15 years.
The Macau Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) raised signal 10 shortly before midday of August 23 2017, at the height Typhoon Hato’s onslaught. The government agency considered Hato as the most destructive typhoon to hit Macau since 1999.
According to the report’s unnamed source, “there’s no doubt the ‘casino factor’ plays into the thinking of those charged with making storm signal decisions.”
The source claimed that smaller casino sub-concessions will be burdened by overtime payments compared to bigger operators.
This is not the first time that Macau launched an investigation into the supposed corruption in the city state’s weather bureau.
Last year, the government received similar complaints that the bureau failed to raise typhoon warning 8 (T8) at the height of Typhoon Nida’s fury. T8 mandates a shutdown of the city.
At that time, the weather bureau was let off the hook after probers failed to find any irregularities. The investigators, however, noted “clear problems” with forecasting procedures.
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