Wu Zhiliang believes that the Macau Foundation, as a bridge between government and non- government organizations, has unique value and can be used for reference by surrounding areas.
Wu Zhiliang is someone who likes to get straight to the point. “The Macau Foundation plays a unique role as social governance intermediary in Macau,” the chairman of the Macau Foundation administrative committee says, as we begin our exclusive interview. “The foundation applies itself to social governance by supporting civil society. For more than 30 years, it has provided a large number of public services. It is a bridge between the government and the private sector.”
A historical scholar, Wu believes that this unique social governance model has the added value of being able to refer to and cooperate with counterparts on the mainland. What follows is a distillation of his views over the course of our interview.
Q Please explain further the role of the Macau Foundation.
A Macao is a small society, with a large number of immigrants. And it is a commercially focused society. Blending Chinese and Western cultures in a context of openness, in a civil society here, has led to the formation of a strong social governance framework. Before the resumption of China°¶s governance (in 1999), Macau°¶s social development was driven mainly by non-government organizations. It relied on support from the business community, which was rooted in traditional Chinese culture. Perhaps surprisingly, this form of governance has transcended generations and is still popular today.
After the handover, the government began to engage more actively in social affairs. The Macau Foundation plays a key role in this regard, assisting and cooperating with the government. With the strength of the community, it has extended its reach to uncover social challenges and meet communal needs to foster social harmony.
There are about 10,000 associations in Macau. Many apply for financial support to the Foundation for activities and development projects. The Foundation funds about 3,000 projects a year.
Funding for the community focuses first on helping disadvantaged communities, channelling funds through organizations helping the physically and mentally disadvantaged, neighborhood associations, youth groups and other societies.
Cultural support is also a key priority. The Foundation has allocated a large amount of resources to cultivate talents, promote Macau’s cultural and academic achievements, and extensively carry out foreign cooperation. It has achieved remarkable results.
Q How do you evaluate the role of the Macau Foundation as an intermediary in social governance?
A Social organizations have a big impact on the lives of citizens. The Foundation is intermediary governance model effectively ensures the timely alleviation of social challenges, meets the needs of residents, especially of vulnerable groups, and so on. With the support of the Foundation, the neighborhood associations, fellow associations and other societies can more effectively organize and mobilize. The community spirit of °ßwatching and helping each other°® has given residents a greater sense of belonging. The social fabric is both more resilient and more flexible, which is conducive to long-term stability and harmony. This is a major feature of Macau is social governance model and it is worth paying respect to counterparts on the mainland for their assistance and cooperation.
In contrast, look at Zhuhai and Shenzhen, both of which are also immigrant-heavy cities. Their governments have heavy responsibilities in social governance, and they have a lot of work to do. Shenzhen has a population of nearly 14 million, yet only 13,000 social organizations (compared to Macau’s 10,000). I believe there is a lot of room for Macau and Shenzhen to exchange and cooperate in this regard in the future. To build a harmonious society, the Macau model can be used as a reference for strengthening a city’s social governance framework.
Q In the future, what new trends can we expect to see in cooperation between the Foundation and the community?
A The Foundation will continue to strive to promote the smooth functioning of society. In fact, in the past ten years, the property system and procurement tendering mechanism of the associations have been generally upgraded, leading to a reduction in extravagance and waste, such as banquet gifts. Activities are more effective in order to pursue project cost-effectiveness. This is a welcome phenomenon. In the future, the Foundation will continue to actively support the community, follow the progress of society, continuously provide products that meet the needs of the city and the citizens, and train more talents. As long as the community has vitality, the foundation will have vitality.
At present, the Foundation adopts an approach of “walking on two legs”. On the one hand, we will support community projects. The criteria for judging are the social benefits and significance of the project, the needs of the community, the ability to execute the project, and the rationality of the budget. The Foundation will continue to consolidate its partnership with the community and address preferences. A good project will enhance the level of cooperation within the community and become more standardized and efficient.
On the other hand, the Foundation also organizes some projects of its own, to lead by example.
Take the case of artistic resources. Because Macau does not have a long history of hosting large-scale literary and art events, many precious materials created here over the years have been scattered and organizers have found it difficult to make these events sustainable. The Foundation has, therefore, decided to cooperate with the National Folk Literature and Art Development Center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, to launch “10 Literary Arts”. This project includes a book, Macau Volume, which has required extensive research work over a period of seven years, yet has already had immeasurable benefit. It has drawn the community closer through participation in the census and record-gathering of the intangible heritage of Macau folk songs, music and dance, opera music, story slang, etc. This has further led to video production, recording and data mining. Various achievements such as interviews and records will be used to recover and preserve Macau’s traditional literary and artistic resources. The book is expected to be published in 2021.
At the same time, the Macao Foundation has also launched “Macau Memory” – a large-scale cultural and historical website – to collect and sort out various historical and cultural materials scattered throughout the SAR, including archives, newspapers, maps, photographs, documentaries, etc. This, too, will help to preserve history and ensure collective memories are retained for future generations. The “Macau Artists Promotion Program” has exhibited and promoted more than 100 outstanding works by Macau artists. The “Macau Production, Local Feelings – Macao Foundation Citizens Special Performance” project was also selected and continued for many years, and was supported and appreciated by the public. Future endeavors will continue to be improved on this basis to enrich the cultural connotation of the city and promote the image of Macau. More importantly, increase cultural confidence and national pride.
In terms of juvenile patriotic education, it has undertaken the “Thousand Talents Plan” coordinated by the Chief Executive’s Office and established the “Thousand Talents” platform. This plan has played a positive role in demonstrating that schools and associations promote young people’s feelings in the country. Over the years, in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Greater Bay Area, there are many youth training, internships and exchanges every year, with obvious results.
Q What are Foundation plans for cooperation and exchanges with surrounding areas?
A The Foundation has carried out extensive foreign cooperation. An example is the °ßVillage for Mothers and Children Safety°® assistance projects in underdeveloped areas in the mainland. It has also purchased °ßsafe school buses°®, trained rural teachers, donated libraries, museums, hospitals, etc. In the future, we will continue to innovate and develop new projects based on the needs of the country in different periods of development.
In addition, the Foundation is still actively supporting associations in organizing some “patriotic love for Macau and the hometown” projects. [This is in recognition of residents roots in “hometowns” on the mainland.] For example, we will encourage people to go on hometown-return visits more often, engage in talks about their hometown, eat hometown food, engage in hometown worship rituals at temples, exchange visits, etc. The aim is to help the second and third generations of immigrants know where they are from, and better understand their family connections. Through these activities, Macau youth are also encouraged to broaden their horizons, consciously enhance their professional competitiveness, and actively integrate into the development of the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area with a more open spirit.”