Hu praises outgoing Macau chief, pledges gift of pandas

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 December, 2009, 12:00am

President Hu Jintao heaped praise on Macau's outgoing Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah yesterday and promised to send a pair of pandas to the city.

Hu arrived in the former Portuguese colony at noon ahead of today's 10th anniversary of the restoration of Chinese rule. A sea of red national flags greeted his arrival in a city fired with patriotism. 'I hope to feel in person the development and changes of Macau through this visit,' he said.

Hu said the central government gave a 'high rating' to Ho, who was picked by Beijing in 1999 to run Macau, for his 10 years of service.

'You were loyal to your job, hard-working and enterprising ... the central government gives a high rating to your work and contribution to Macau and the nation,' Hu said at a meeting with Ho and his cabinet members. He lauded Ho again when delivering a speech to 670 guests at a grand banquet.

The central government 'also holds high expectations on Mr Chui Sai-on, who will assume office tomorrow, and the new term of the Macau SAR government', Hu said.

Ho's popularity has suffered from government graft and misspending scandals in the past few years, prompting speculation that central government officials were unhappy with his performance.

Hu's praise flies in the face of such criticism.

Not only did he express his high regard for Macau with words, he put it into action by announcing that the central government would give the city two pandas in celebration of the handover anniversary, after the Macau government made the request. Hu said the pandas represented 'deep affection' and 'sincere care' from mainland compatriots and he hoped the pair would bring joy to Macau residents.

Professor Larry So Man-yum, who teaches public administration at Macau Polytechnic Institute, said the praise Hu heaped on Ho was largely because the 'one country, two systems' framework was not allowed to fail. 'It's a must to demonstrate the success of 'one country, two systems' to Taiwan residents,' So said, adding that the praise was not so much a case of backing Ho as it was a call for Fernando Chui Sai-on, the new chief executive, to do well.

The president also met Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and eight other principal officials from Macau's neighbour.

Amid Hong Kong's public consultation on electoral reforms, Hu said he was confident the city's government and the community would handle constitutional development well and improve the economy and the lives of Hongkongers.

The two special administrative regions had accumulated valuable experience in the implementation of 'one country, two systems' and could learn from each other, Hu said.

Tsang thanked the central government for its support and care for Hong Kong. He also met Chui yesterday.

During the first day of his tour, Hu also officiated at the opening of Macau's Science Centre and visited a hi-tech waste-treatment facility. He also met a middle-class family on Taipa Island, bringing along toys and a television set as gifts.