My government will be a team effort: Chui

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 July, 2009, 12:00am

Being seen as a strong leader was not important, Macau's chief executive-to-be Fernando Chui Sai-on said of his imminent stint in the top role.

The sole candidate, who is to be elected by a 300-member committee next Sunday, was responding to comparisons of himself and incumbent Edmund Ho Hau-wah.

Dr Chui yesterday fielded 14 questions at the first of three public question-and-answer sessions.

Resident Chung Kin-san asked the former secretary for social and cultural affairs whether he would refrain from reforms and pursue stability, in contrast to Mr Ho's '10 years of bright achievements that have also brought many social problems'.

'I do not need you to recognise me as a particularly strong leader,' Dr Chui told a 140-strong audience.

'What is important is that the special administrative region government as a team put effort into attaining citizens' work targets for it, and to solve problems. The government as a whole needs to be strong in order to implement an executive-led administration.'

He said Mr Ho's achievements would lay a sound foundation for the next administration to follow, but added that 'it is impossible for two persons to be the same, in terms of personal character and leadership style'.

Audience members raised a wide variety of issues, ranging from air quality at a local bus stop to the city's democratic development.

'Our neighbour already has a timetable for universal suffrage; when will Macau have one?' asked Joanna Tam Kuai-in, a nursing graduate recently returned from university studies in Britain.

'There are some differences between the Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macau,' Dr Chui said. 'The Macau Basic Law stipulates that we develop democracy in a gradual and progressive manner. This does not mean a hindrance to our progress.

'We need to build up consensus in the community and widely consult the public on the pace and arrangements,' he said, restating a pledge to conduct studies on the issue after assuming office.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee ruled in 2007 that Hong Kong could implement universal suffrage in elections for the chief executive in 2017 and for the Legislative Council in 2020.

On the economy, he said Macau's gaming business still enjoyed an advantageous position but the city should strengthen its cultural industries, exhibition, retail and service sectors to avoid over-reliance on a single industry.

Dr Chui said he would encourage casino workers to pursue higher education so that they could rise to management levels.

He also pledged to put fast-rising home rents on his list of problems to solve.