Macau, the “Las Vegas of the East,” has been prevalent in recent global news, especially as the residence of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader’s brother who was poisoned in a Kuala Lumpur airport several weeks ago. Behind the façade of a glitzy, Asian gambling den where wealthy men make and squander their fortunes, many people are living in poverty in Macau.
Government officials boast that the rate of poverty in Macau is a mere 2.3 percent of the population. They cite rapid economic development as the reason for this low number, however, through some investigating, organizations such as Caritas Macau have discovered that this number is not entirely accurate.
The percentage does not account for the sky-high cost of living in Macau, and lower wages are often not enough to live comfortably. There are plenty of wealthy people in Macau, but even those who are comparatively poorer have more money than impoverished people elsewhere in the world.
When the high cost of living is taken into account, the number of people living in poverty in Macau jumps up to 10 percent.
A Hard-Working Population
In an interview with The Guardian, one woman at the MGM Macau detailed her struggle as a single mother while working as a cook. Others living in poverty in Macau are forced to leave their homes and find jobs elsewhere in China.
Most of the blame falls on corrupt government officials, who are always looking for opportunities to expand the economic potential to Macau. Government funding is often poured into building developments for the gambling industry instead of helping the poorest in Macau.
It is hopeful that if the government allocated more funding to explicitly help the poor, a significant and more accurate change in the percentage of those living in poverty would occur.
– Mary Grace Costa