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Reality bites

Paulo Rego*

The British expression “Reality bites” has a deep political meaning, confronting leaders and decision-makers with facts that, being predictable, have been despised – at the very least, relativized.

History documents the lesson of the real: no matter how much the facts are circumvented, no matter how brilliant the illusions – and narratives – seem to be, the truth enters through the eyes, keeping our feet on the ground. Usually, like now, biting our heels and undermining the way. Macau – like all of China – pays dearly for the excessive extension of the zero-case policy. The good news is that political power is now showing this awareness. As the Portuguese saying goes, better late than never.

There is another elephant in the room that needs to be taken out from under the rug where the obvious is hidden. Ho Iat Seng’s success in fighting the pandemic, as well as in fulfilling patriotic goals, created a comfort zone that discouraged the Executive from the effort – and the risks – of public administration reform, the more demanding promotion of an economic diversification that it needs innovation and a new demanding culture in private entrepreneurship.

The rentier economy, which distributed the leftovers from the game… ended. Even after the pandemic – and the reopening of borders – the Region’s coffers will never be filled to the same level again. And this reality will hurt…

Ho Iat Seng is not to blame in the pandemic registry office. On the contrary, he accumulated merits in his combat. He also has no conflicts with the central power, having fulfilled the agenda of those who chose him. Nor is Macau in charge of border policy. But make no mistake: at the end of his first term, he will be confronted with the reality of the numbers – and not with the narrative of his actions.

Or they advance in force with the reform of Public Administration and the commitment to the economic fabric for economic diversification; or low standards of living and employment will undermine social peace itself.

And that’s when they really bite…

*Director General of PLATAFORMA

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