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Macau Bahá'í Community in the Early Years

by Barbara R. Sims

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Chapter 8

8. From the 1960s

In 1960 the community sent Naw-Rúz greeting cards to 24 Bahá'ís in eleven countries but received only two in reply, which caused the secretary to speculate that Naw-Rúz cards might not be a common practice among Bahá'ís.

In 1960 the first all-Chinese Local Spiritual Assembly was elected. It consisted of Mr. Yim, Mr. Jimmie Yuen, Mr. Wu Tze-Ming, Mrs. Koo Hang-ngo, Mr. John Z.T. Chang, Mr. Peter Chow, Mrs. Margaret Chang (Chang Jui-chun), Harry Yim's mother Mrs. Pansi Yim (Yen Poon-si), and Mrs. Yeh Li Mei-t'ao.

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This was a Bahá'í picnic on the island of Coloane February 28, 1960. It was sponsored by the Macau Local Spiritual Assembly.

The early work of the Bahá'ís was undertaken with great discretion on account of Portuguese officials. By the latter part of 1960, the Bahá'í community consisted of four women and eight men, all Chinese, as the last Portuguese Bahá'í left July 8 of the same year. The Bahá'í community was extremely transient; foreigners could seldom find work and the Chinese often considered Macau a stepping stone to somewhere else. The Chinese Bahá'ís tried to hold things together after 1960. Mr. Azizi alternated his time between Hong Kong and Teheran, but when he was in Hong Kong he frequently came to Macau to help with the teaching work.

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This was the first all-Chinese Local Spiritual Assembly in Macau. It was elected in April 21, 1960. Seated: Mrs. Koo Lang-ngo, Mrs. Yeh Li Mei-t'ao, Mrs. Pansi Yim (Yen Poon-si) and Mrs. Margaret Chang (Chang Jui-chun). Standing: Mr. Jimmie Yuen, Mr. Peter Chow, Mr. John Chang, Mr. Harry Yim and Mr. Wu Tze-ming.

In 1961 there were ten Bahá'ís on the list; Mrs. Yim had died and Mr. Yuen left Macau. Mr. Yim had firesides every Sunday between 4 P.M. and 6 P.M. One person declared that year, in September, Mr. Wai Mung Yip. In December they decided to have a party at Lee Kong Kee restaurant to bring together all the Bahá'ís and the friends who had been attending the firesides. It was at the time of the Chinese Moon Festival.

In 1962 the secretary, Mr. Chang, wrote of the two islands of Taipa and Coloane. He said they had fishing villages and fireworks factories, with a small population, but that the people were simple and honest. They attempted some teaching on the islands but there were no declarations.

Mr. Yim told one of the later pioneers that two or three Bahá'í men went teaching to Taipa Island. This was before the bridge was build and they had to take a ferry. For some reason they missed the last ferry and had to sit up all night in a mahjong parlor waiting for the first morning ferry.

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There seem to have been many Bahá'í articles in the Hong Kong newspapers in those early days, but few in the Macau papers. However, this is an article printed in Macau in 1962.


Although there was a Local Spiritual Assembly, between 1963 and 1965 activity was rather minimal.

The Bahá'ís made inquiries about registering the Faith with the government in the 1960s but were told they had to have a reason to do so such as involving in charitable works. It seems few organizations were registered at that time.

In the 1970s they again made inquiries. The Universal House of Justice advised them to wait until the Faith was registered in Portugal. A certificate of registration, dated January 28, 1976, was issued by the government of Portugal to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Portugal. The certification was equivalent to incorporation. This opened the way to pursue the same objective in Macau. In 1982 Macau was granted certification by the government.

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Mr. Azizi, who was living in Hong Kong, made countless teaching trips to Macau through the years. This was a picnic in Coloane, February 25, 1962. Mr. Azizi is standing third from the left; Peter Chow is next to him (left). Mr. Yim, with glasses, is fourth from the right.

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The compiler, Mrs. Sims, enjoys the sights while on a visit to the Bahá'ís of Macau in 1963. At that time she was secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia and was in close contact with the Macau community.

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Mr. Yim and Mr. Chang in front of Leng Nam School, 1963.

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The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Macau, elected April 21, 1963. Seated: Mr. Leong (Liang Chien-yeh), Mrs. Yeh Li Mei-t'ao, Mrs. Margaret Chang (Chang Jui-chun), Mrs. Koo Lang-ngo. Standing: Mr. Wa Tze-ming, Mr. John Chang (Chang Shao-tsai), Mr. Yeh Wei-ming, Mr. Harry Yim (Yen P'ei-feng) and Mr. Yang Yuen-han.

Mr. Peter Chow was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly but he felt he had to resign because he was teaching in a Catholic school. Mr. Yang took his place.

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On March 21, 1964 Mr. Yim was delighted when five youth declared their belief in Bahá'u'lláh. They had a party that night which Mr. Yim called a "banquet from God". It was paid for with $10 Mr. Scherer had sent them.

Mr. Yim is sitting in the front. On the left is Mr. Liang Chien-yeh who had become a Bahá'í in 1962 and was on the Local Spiritual Assembly in 1963. Front right is Choi Hing-wun. At the rear is Choeng Fun-wai, Wong Yan-chung, Yim Chee-sing and Wong Yan-cheng.

All six young men were taken care of by Mr. Yim until they could immigrate to various countries.

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