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VOLUME 3, Number3
THROES OF A FORGOTTEN COLONY
It was just another night in Macau. A warm rain glazed the pavement as aman parked his scooter and strolled into Mou Kei Restaurant. He looked around, walked swiflty to the table where Ng Ming-Chuen, a casino operator, was presiding over a boisterous dinner, whipped out an automatic and fired into Mr. Ng's stomach. Then he turned, strode out of the restaurant, mounted his scooter and disappeared into the night.
For six months, this tiny Portuguese colony on the south China coast has been engulfed in a gang war of increasing ferocity - war of contract killings, firebombings and intimidation - for control of the territory's gambling industry, the heartbeat of Macau's otherwise sluggish economy. Macau will return to Chinese rule in December 1999 and Portugal, which established the first European beachhead in China in 1557, will bow out as the last European colonial power in Asia.
When Captain Edward Belcher planted the Union Jack on Hong Kong Island to assert British's imperial claim in 1841, Portuguese merchants had already been busily, and profitably, trading with China for 300 years from their base in Macau. But while Hong Kong went on to become Asia's dominant financial and trading centre, Macau sank into obscurity.
Hong Kong, buttressed by great trading houses, the rise of formidable banks and its vastly superior harbor, ensured its eclipse. British trade dominated Asia, while Portugal's principal colonial interests increasinglylay in Africa.
In this century, it has been Hong Kong that served as the goal for Chineserefugees. The British treated all Chinese immigrants - whether Cantonese peasants or Shanghai tycoons - as second-class citizens only at the last moment granting full citizenship to a favored few.
In Macau in 1981, on the other hand, Portugal offered passports to anyone who had been born in the territory. Since then, any child born in the territory with one Portuguese parent is also entitled to citizenship.
Now, 27 per cent of Macau's 450,000 people are Portuguese citizens with the right to live anywhere in the European Union. Still, despite the colonnaded squares and thick-walled building in Portuguese pastels, and restaurants offering chorizo sausage and vinho verde, the small peninsula and two nearby islands that make up Macau have all but lost the tincture of Iberia. Economically, culturally, politically, China runs this place.
Across the traffic circle from Macau's biggest money-spinner, the Lisboa Casino, the granite-and-glass monolith of the Bank of China casts its long shadow over the territory. At news-stands, the biggest-selling paper is the Chinese-owned 'Macau Daily'.
Neighborhood associations, trade unions and civic groups are dominated by the Chinese Communist Party. Yet, as Macau moves towards to formal Chinese rule, the Portuguese Government is confronting a sudden explosion of wars by competing triads, a Civil Service virtually devoid of local people at the top, and an economy sinking under a glut of speculative real estate deals and foreign indifference.
The real estate market is crumbling rapidly. On new land wrenched from the sea, block after block of dusty office towers and empty-eyed apartment buildings march outward from the Avenida da Amizada, the product of frenzied property investment by mainland Chinese in the early 1990s. Almost all the buildings stand vacant, as do the clusters of white apartment towers on the islands of Taipa and Coloane.
The early 1990s property boom fizzled out under the weight of Macau's stagnant population, mediocre economic prospects and rampant speculation. Behind that speculation were the combined forces of Chinese capital being funneled out of Guangdong province and triads hoping to turn their gambling revenue into what they hoped would be a booming real estate market.
In many ways the territory's economic woes are less Portugal's worry than China's. With more than half the investment in Macau coming from China and with the Bank of China and a Chinese conglomerate, the Nam Kwong group, controlling virtually ever key business sector, Portugal whose investments are infinitesimal, is concerned only with maintaning friendly relations with Beijing.
Portugal's ambition for Macau amounts to little more than ensuring that a sliver of Iberian culture on China's coast will survive. "We have been here for five centuries," said Brigadier Manuel Soares Monge, a member of Macau's Cabinet. "So Portugal is trying to ensure that, after 1999, Macau maintains its way of life, to preserve Portuguese culture." But Portuguese culture clings precariously. More than half the residents have lived here under a decade, and new immigrants are from neighboring Guangdong province. Their cultural ties are to Cantonese villages, not to Lisbon. And while British and international culture seeped into the marrow of Hong Kong society, cultural chasms cleave Macau. But as Portuguese rule winds down, it has been the rising gang combat that worries most people.
At one of the restaurants along the waterfront Avenida de Republica, where rows of umbrella-covered tables stand mostly empty, a local restaurateur complained bitterly about the effect of the triad wars upon business. "Its very bad," he said asking that his name not be used. "We've lost about 60 per cent of our business. People are not coming from Hong Kong." In December, the Government official in charge of regulating casinos was shot in the head and seriously wounded. And so far this year, 16 people, mostly members of the dominant 14K and Waterhouse triads, have been killed in a wave of machine-gunnings and contract slayings.
In late July, during a six-hour frenzy of violence, a small bomb was tossed into the Governor's residence, two cars were fire-bombed, and four gunmen sprayed a new hotel and casino with an AK-47 assault rifle wounding three guards.
Many businessmen here say that with the collapse of real estate and with mainland Chinese, Hong Kong and even Japanese gangs competing for a piece of the ever-more-important casino action, conflicts are being settled by gunfire. Gangs are deeply enmeshed in the activities of the casinos, particularly in controlling so-called VIP rooms, where high rollers play. "They were to be dominant," Brigadier Monge explained. "They want to have a say when China takes control of Macau." But, as that day appoaches, Macau has become almost a historical curiousity, a place largely forgotten in Lisbon and all but ignored by Beijing."
rises receive the all clear
MACAU'S Legislative Assembly members were on Tuesday unanimous in approving a 6.38 per cent salary increase for 17,000 civil servants and political office-holders, including themselves. Under the new pay scheme the governor, General Vasco Rocha Vieira, earns 129,734 patacas (HK$129,734) per month, which is more than double the monthly salary of the Portuguese president. And Legislative Assembly President Anabela Ritchie's pay goes to 103,787 patacas.
The increases were effective from 1 July. It is customary for salaries for Macau's civil servants and political office-bearers to be increased everysummer.
Before this round of increases civil servants were earning an average of 14,384 patacas a month _ more than double the average salary in Macau's private sector. They are paid 14 months' salary a year, and it is all tax free. Civil service pensions were also increased by 6.38 per cent. A government spokesman said the round of increases would mean an additional expenditure of about 123 million patacas over the next 12 months. In all, 87 office-bearers benefit. They include seven cabinet under-secretaries, 23 legislators, 22 urban councillors and 33 high-ranking members of the judiciary and the Office of the High Commissioner against Corruption.
Nearly 4 per cent of Macau's total population of 455,000 is employed by the enclave's civil service, which includes the judiciary and security forces.
Queen Elizabeth seems more popular in Hong Kong now than when the Chinese region was a British colony -- if the coinage isanything to go by.
Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China on July 1, ending 156 years of British colonial rule. Colonial icons such as flags, coats-of-arms, royal mailboxes and police insignia have been removed and replaced, along with the queen's head on postage stamps. But the queen's-head coins are still in use -- assuming, of course, you can find any.
The metal is legal tender alongside new coins sporting the tropical bauhinia blossom, Hong Kong's new emblem. But they have a higher value than the post-colonial coinage because they are rapidly becoming collectors' items.
Hong Kong people are chasing the queen and stashing away the coins in hope of cashing in one day on their scarcity value. "There is a severe shortage of the low-value coins, especially five cents and 10 cents, so they are going for the highest prices," Anthony Lee, manager of New Century Collections Company Limited, told Reuters. Six queen coins are circulating, with a face value of 10, 20 and 50 Hong Kong cents, and one, two and five Hong Kong dollars.
The government stopped minting the queen coins in 1992, and they are increasingly rare in people's pocket change. As memorabilia of colonial Hong Kong, they are a potentially easy way to turn a quick profit, and they have become the target of speculators and collectors in a society fast to latch on to money-spinning ideas.
The price of the coins jumps every week. A 1980-vintage 10 cents coin now fetches HK$900 dollars (US$116), and a 1964-minted five cents coin goes for $500, Lee said. "The highest price for a 1980-made 10 cents coin was $20,000. There are only 1,000 of these in the market," he said. "The buyers of queen-head coins come mainly from collectors in mainland China. They will pay very high prices," he said. Lee believes the speculation will continue for years. Every morning outside the banks, elderly people queue up to obtain packets of coins for banknotes and then sift eagerly through the metal in hope of finding a queen's head.
"I can find four or five queens in a packet of 100 dollars worth of coins," said pensioner Lam Chun. "I will sell them to a collectable coins company. It is profitable," Lam said.
Within 30 minutes of opening its doors, a bank can run out of coins. One, the Hang Seng Bank, has decided to stop these exchanges because of inconvenience caused to other customers.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the central bank, will issue 100 million new coins -- sans the queen's head -- next month to relieve the shortage. (US$1=HK$7.74)
The Fall Festa
Our Fall "pig-out" was held on October 4th in Richmond. Your roving cub-reporter was there and submits this report for your enjoyment:
".....and what a feast it was. Scrumptuous dish after scrumptuous dish laid out on a table estimated at over thirty feet in length. The menu covered everything from Diabo, Salmon, Minche, Seafood Newburg, Capella, Curry as well as a wonderful Roast Pig (Siu Chue) and many other countless and very tasty dishes. The dessert table was yet another masterpiece and included many different cakes, cookies, jellos, fresh fruits and much much more for our culinary delight. This reporter also observed that a dessert-policeman was on duty throughout the evening to ensure nobody had a head start on the "sweets". "Constable" Fernie Pereira was fully equipped for the task and proudly displayed his truncheon to anybody attempting a head start on desserts. And he would have used it too!!
The evening was a total success once again with a very entertaining session of Karaoke. We certainly had some very talented singers there that night who made sure we were well "entertained". Jackie Pereira was outstanding in her two renditions of _________(Im not really sure what they were!!) and even had an encore!!!!
Congee and two types of Mai Fun served just before midnight made sure none of us went home hungry. Attendance at this function was again well over the 200 mark and is a tribute to the entire club. This kind of support only serves to encourage us to have more similar type events just to eat and make merry. Several attendees were observed to be wearing their Halloween costumes which added to the fun filled atmosphere. Perhaps next year we can encourage more costumes with a small prize for the best disguised etc.
Our grateful thanks to all those involved in making this evening such a success. It would be impossible to list the names of all the volunteers and any attempts to do so could result in some being inadvertently omitted. Suffice to say that Lyce Rozario and her "crew" of volunteers did a wonderful job and we thank you all!!! Thanks also to all those who helped cook, serve, cleanup, organize and worked so hard throughout the evening.................."
The next BIG event is the upcoming New Years Eve Dinner/Dance. Check out the article in this issue for details.
Update: Name for our Newsletter
We had asked our readership to submit names for our newsletter and it has been decided to delay introduction of a new Moniker until the first issue of the new year. So far we have received only 4 submissions, but very good ones at that. We would really rather select from a larger list of potential names and therefore ask you to all put your thinking caps on and submit your suggestions to the Editor or any member of the Executive by December 31st. There will be a prize for the person submitting the successful entry.
Thank you all for your anticipated participation.
BC Children's Hospital Poster Boy
Three year old Kyler Adams was all over town last summer. The grandson of members Bob and Pat Adams (and great grandson of Tom and Cissy (dos Remedios) Butler) was selected to be the poster boy for BC Children's Hospital's fund raising efforts. Kyler underwent open-heart surgery in February of this year. A hole in his heart was discovered shortly after his first birthday, and when it failed to close up on it's own, doctors recommended surgery. Now, apart from having what he calls a "racing stripe" on his chest, Kyler is an active, lively little boy.
He and his das, Mike Adams, a firefighter with the District of North Vancouver, were on hand at the Fall Festa, where Kyler munched on chocolate chip cookies with the approval of Constable Fernie Pereira, a membetr of the "Dessert Police".
(Editors note: Pat Adams is our newsletter's ever so capable layout and graphics designer)
(If we have missed yours, please let us know so that we can update our records.)
We Remember........Bad Eggs
Its Boxing Day, December 26th, 10.30 A.M. at No. 4 Ashley Road. Our first stop of a very long day. Our gracious host and hostess, the Carvalhos, have breakfast ready, and drinks of course. "You must line your stomachs!" Aunty Silvia is determined that we start the day with the right nourishment. Off to Hillwood Road. Aunty Hilda has another scrumptuous spread ready and waiting for us - and drinks of course. Then its lunch at the Barros. Aunty Cissy is so concerned that our drinking is outweighing our eating. Not a chance. We are stuffed and almost overfed., but never enough drinks. By now, we are feeling NO PAIN!
We must make it to Recreio in time to join the Ladies Events. After all, were all atheletes and in training, so why not give the other "ladies" a run for their money? WE make it there on time and, yes, we win!!! 1st, 2nd & 3rd - a clean sweep. Who says weve had too much booze? The childrens races and party are over. Now the real party starts. Were such a notorious bunch...were sharing a glass of cheer with everybody. Its Christmas after all, and we are most definitely in the holiday spirit.
Shell Court, La Salle Road, our last stop. The Guterres are next door drinking a holiday cheer with their neighbours. Who cares?.....our "Presidente" has been waiting all day for us. On with the music, out come the drinks. Oh, that Champagne Cocktail! We really need some food now. The house is filling up. Our male counterparts join us. Were doing the Madison, and every other dance thats in rage that year, and then some. Uncle Georgie is complaining that were such a drunk and rowdy bunch. Sorry, Aunty Betty is our President and we are having a grand time. The singing, dancing and drinking continue till late. Weve been partying for 12 hours. Time to go home. Ladies, tomorrow is a work day. We really do need to get some sleep.
We started out with GIRLS ONLY, but the Guys thought we should let them tag along to get us safely to our watering holes. Thank you Jojo, Quito and Luiz for driving us around and seeing us safely home.
Unfortunately, not all the BAD EGGS are gere today. To our absent members, we miss you. CHEERS! KOO PA RIVA!
To all our gracious hostesses, who nourished us with food and drink, we thank you. Soem of you are no longer with us, but you will always be in our hearts. To you, and those whom we are still blessed to have around, we raise our glasses to you one more time. VIVA! You made our 26th so very special.
And Dear Friends, we remember....those New Years Eves at Lusitano and Siu Yeh in the wee hours. Only places open were Tai Pai Tongs. Our stomachs could handle anything then! Those Chinese New Year, Ladies and Bo Bo Dances - the weeks and hours of hard work preparation. What great parties they were!
We remember.....our hockey victories. And softball, tennis & badminton championships.
We remember.....Ladies, when we drank Astrids house dry, and even finished off the Port!
We remember.....those crazy Saturdays - after our hockey and cricket matches - dinner at Kowloon Restaurant, then dancing till 2 A.M. at Highball Night Club. Sundays, 8 A.M. Mass at Rosary Church, softball at 10 A.M., back to Recreio for hockey or tennis. Where did we get the stamina and energy to do all that?
Those were the great Club days! Those were the best times of our lives - we will always remember and cherish. Most importantly, we have formed a friendship that is so very special. No matter where the road will lead us, we are, and will be......
(Ed Note: This article, written by Flavia (Collaco) Greubel on the occasion of the "Bad Eggs & Old Friends Reunion" held in HongKong on October 29th, 1996. Many of the attendees were already in Macau for the last Encontro. Thank you Flavia, for allowing us to publish this very nostalgic piece. Flavia is now living in the Seattle area together with her husband Reiner.)
Member Shines at BC Special Olympics
The BC Special Olympics was held in Coquitlam from July 10 - 12 this past summer and boy, did one of our members really shine!!!
Alison Rodrigues, daughter of Marilyn Rodrigues, was given the honour of carrying the Torch at the Opening Ceremonies of the Games. This is nothing new to Alison, who proudly carried the BC Banner in Calgary in 1996 during the Opening Ceremonies of the Canadian Special Olympics Winter Games.
Alison competes in speed skating in the winter and track and field in the summer. So this past summer she had the opportunity to make all the hard work she put into her training pay off. And pay off it did. With Mom Marilyn cheering loudly from the stands, Alison accomplished what many of us can only dream of doing. Competing in the Under 21 age group, Alison won 5 Gold Medals plus another Gold in the Ladies Coquitlam Relay Team. Thats 6 Gold Medals!!!
The following are the events Alison won:
Under 21: 100M, 200M, 400M, Running Long Jump, Shotput.
Ladies Division: Relay
In recognition of her achievements, Alison has been selected to the BC Track & Field Team for the Canadian Special Olympics to be held July 1998 in Sudbury, Ont.
Congratulations to you Alison, on behalf on the entire Club.
While Alison was "Gold-Mining", another member of her family was busy making a mark of his own too. Steven Rodrigues, Alisons brother went to the Canadian Field Hockey Championships as a member of the BC Mens Division Team. And guess what? BC won!! Well done Steven!!
This all happened on the same weekend and poor mom (Marilyn) had to miss Stevens championship win as she was with Alsion in Coquitlam!!
We, Macanese the world over, recognize minche as our own home dish. Each person has his or her own way of preparing it. One can find association in the pivotal role Old Macau had with corresponding trading ports of the 16th century, by looking at the early sources of some of the basic supplements featured in many minche dishes. Look closely at the yellow onion of Goa, the "rabano cha-pui de Amoy" of Malacca, the "ouvidos de rato" (won see) of Canton, the "lor pak" (daikon) turnip of Nagasaki, the "cincomas" yam of Manila, the "fitas de fun-see" of Amoy, the grão-de-bico, the green pea, the white potato of Lisbon. Moreover, note that these items also feature as the "chinchas" in that great Macanese finger food delicacy, the chilicote!
The word "minche" is derived from the English "mince" - to chop food into fine bits. It was yet another word, among many others, the Macanese contributed to the vocabulary of "China Coast Pidgin English", the actual spoken language of commerce conducted by and among traders in the 19th century. The Macanese minche can trace its roots to the Goanese quema, or kheema, the dish of finely chopped beef and onions, seasoned with masala spices.
Food preferences and food avoidances are cultural traits. They often serve as a basis for ethnic identification and religious affiliation. Christian Goanese ate beef to establish themselves as non-Hindu; Christian Malaccans used lard in their cooking to set them apart from the Muslims. A lively trade already existed between Amoy and Malacca at the time the Portuguese arrived there in 1509. Fukienese merchants, seamen and craftsmen took native wives. In time a distinctive Malaccan-Fukienese cuisine developed. It was the forerunner of today's "Nonya Cuisine" of Malaysia and Singapore. As with the Fukienese, Portuguese and Goanese men took native wives. In the 17th century Christian Malaccan women and their Offspring provided the basic ethnic stock of many old-line Macanese families, as did likewise Christian Japanese women and their children. In Macau, an admixture of Luso-Asian food cultures developed, which accounted for Malaccan influence in Macanese home cooking, as in our lacassa, porco balichão tamarinho, and arroz pulu carregado. In turn, Macanese influence can be seen in the Japanese "court haute cuisine" of that time in their tempura, tonkatsu and chawan-mushi.
Wearing traditional clothing, speaking Macanese, professing the Catholic faith, and adopting Macanese-style home cooking were ways to affirm Macanese identity. The minche dish played a role in this assertion by the symbolisms involved in preparing and serving a minche dish dinner. The classic minche dish had to have onion (cebola da India), turmeric (assafrão da India), and lastly, garlic (very Portuguese). The minche meat, preferably pork, should be seasoned with white pepper (whose native home was the spice islands of the Celebes and the Moluccas, long ago Portuguese), and with "tic yau" (properly called "sheung chu yau"), the thick, molasses-based soy sauce favoured in Fukienese and Nonya cooking. The minche supplement could be any choice or any combination of the ingredients described earlier. Minche should be cooked in lard oil or peanut oil.
The classic Macanese pork minche dish is to be served over steamed rice, and topped with a fried egg, whose colours, yellow and white, represented Roman Catholicism. (The ancient and popular Japanese dish, donburi, is derived from this Macanese arrangement of serving egg and minche on rice).
Two vegetables of Mediterranean origin accompanied the minche dish, as affirmation of our Macanese identity and our Portuguese heritage. Each could be served either as a vegetable dish or a soup. Usually watercress (sai yeung choi) came with pork minche; spinach (por choi),with beef minche.
MINCHE How delightfully, how characteristically, how truly, Macanese.
This delicious preparation, known to all, is a most popular dish in Macau. It is made with 1-1/2 lb. of Veal or Pork; Onion, Shallot and some minced Garlic.
Mince the meat and season it with Salt, pepper, dashes of "Sam Chou" soy sauce, and a touch of flour. Saute the chopped onion or onion rings with the shallot. When they are browned, place the minced meat and mix it with some soy sauce called "Tec-Yau". When the mixture is under flame, press it with a spatula so that the meat does not form lumps. To augment volume, one may add fried potatoes, diced into small cubes.
For those readers with an Internet connection, make sure you visit the following website for some very interesting Macanese recipes including:
The website address is http://home.earthlink.net/~cdesouza/balichao.html. The site was put up by Christina de Souza who now lives in Oakland, California. Check the bottom of the page, it allows you to send "Fan Mail" to Meno Baptista!!!