Macau Business Magazine has a chilling front page article in their December 2008 issue called “You’re Fired – Expat Exodus” about the mass exodus of Expats working in Macau. You can read the original article at: http://www.macaubusiness.com/index.php?id=1451
Overview from Macau Business Magazine
The wave of lay-offs that has hit the expat community has left a bad taste in the mouth. The whiff of betrayal is in the air and for many, there will be no coming back.
- When a bluecard is withdrawn (making it illegal for expats to work in Macau) they have 10 days to exit.
- The first big cuts happened in early November 2008 on the Cotai Strip. There was mass panic among expats. In mid November the Venetian laid off 11,000 constructions workers as it halted work on the Cotai strip. In late November or early December many entertainers at the Venetian were let go. Many of these workers had already been here for a couple years and had relocated from their home countries.
- There are rumors of “ill feeling” between LVS and the Macau Government. Some feel the world economy is being used as an excuse to purge Macau of expats.
- The darkest “conspiracy theory” hints that the Macau Government is a slow moving vulture with it’s eye on the Cotai Strip, Adelson and the Venetian.
- Conservative Macau lawmakers are getting high praise for returning jobs to local Macanese, while expats cannot understand where they are going to get local employees with the necessary skills and experience to replace their jobs.
- Rent prices, local supermarkets and shop prices skyrocketed with the mass influx of expats with large disposable incomes. The local Macanese hope that with the exodus of expats the prices will begin to lower again.
- It is rumored that no bluecards will be renewed for casino floor managers so all positions will be held by local Macanese within the year.
- Businesses are preferring to hire local Macanese to stay in good graces with the government.
- From the article: “During Macau’s boom we reached out for their help but when crisis struck, they were first for the chop. Conservative lawmakers want their heads and guaranteed jobs for locals. The clamour to sack foreign workers can verge on the xenophobic.”
- Quote from a local: ““I am very happy to see so many foreigners going home.”
- Official statistics from June show there are 98,505 non-resident workers in Macau – 13,713 of them in the construction sector.
- As of October 3, 2008 new applications to hire non-local workers in the construction sector will not be accepted.
- “Changing the rules when the game has already started is not pretty”
- The growth in foreign investment in Macau was “too fast” and “unhealthy”
The Chinese government has increased it’s visa restrictions for local Chinese over the border visiting Macau. I have heard two takes on this. I have heard that it’s part of the Chinese government making sure it’s economy doesn’t slip into Macau hands. I have also heard it’s part of throttling the growth in Macau to keep it under control. The growth here is staggering and construction is immense. Most say the infrastructure has not had a chance to catch up with development. The restrictions by the Chinese government may well be part of a long term vision to ensure stability from a long term approach.
I have been told that while for a Western the phrase “long term” might mean 5 years; to the Chinese that may mean 20 years. So planning long term is indeed long term.
So what do I think? I’m an expat, it’s not my country. It’s up to Macau and their government to do what’s best for Macau. I can accept that.