Twin pandas born on June 26 in Macau (link in Chinese), the Cantonese-speaking special administration region that is China’s casino capital, have been nicknamed “Tam Tam” and “Wu Wu” by the city’s citizens in an online poll. In Cantonese, Tam means greed and Wu means dirty. Combined together, as Tam Wu, the names mean corruption.
The names were the overwhelming winner in a seven-day online poll. 561 votes, more than half the total, went to “Tam Tam” and “Wu Wu,” while the second-place winner (“Dai Bou” and “Sai Bou,” which mean “older treasure” and “younger treasure”) got only 40 votes.
Macau’s Civil and Municipal Affairs Bureau called for public name suggestions (link in Chinese) for the pandas in August, and received more than 3,600 submissions, but have not disclosed them. The current poll was conducted by Macau Concealers, an 11-year-old media outlet backed by the city’s pro-democratic party (link in Chinese).
China’s crackdown on corruption, and particularly corrupt Communist Party officials, has hit Macau hard, shrinking casino gambling revenue for the past two years, although the fall may be tapering off.
The twins’ parents—”Hoi Hoi” (happy) and “Sam Sam”(heart), which combined mean happiness in Chinese—were gifted to Macau by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2014, and named after a previous panda couple in Macau. The new pandas might have to wait until Oct. 3 (link in Chinese) to learn their official names, when the government will be holding a 100-day celebration for the pandas and their names will be announced.
Macau residents were divided on the poll results. “You respect ‘public opinion,’ but how about the panda cubs? You might just see this as some dinner party topic, but how would you feel if your pet was named like this?” Malin Mak commented under the post (link in Chinese) on Facebook. Pazu Ng replied, “Did you ask the pandas’ parents or the pandas? They might like the names.”
China’s iconic pandas have been part of the country’s international diplomacy efforts. China gave the US Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing in April 1972 under chairman Mao Zedong’s order, after US president Richard Nixon ‘s visit to China. The US had received 12 pandas by 2014, who have names such as Mei Xiang (beauty and fragrance) and Yang Yang (long-relationship).