Macau chief executive promises a government that listens more to the public

Chief executive promises to limit gambling's growth and increase housing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 2014, 6:24am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 2014, 9:07am

Macau's chief executive vowed to improve his governance by listening more to the public at the city's only election forum with the 400 members of the Election Committee yesterday.

Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, who is seeking a second term unopposed, also said that in the future all crucial bills should go through a public consultation before being tabled to the city's legislature to ensure consensus.

In May, 20,000 people in the former Portuguese enclave took part in what was described as the largest demonstration since the 1999 handover to condemn a now-shelved bill that would have given lavish retirement packages to retired chief executives and senior officials.

Protesters condemned the government for not conducting a formal consultation before tabling the "self-tailored" bill to the Legislative Assembly.

Chui, 57, introduced his manifesto in a question-and-answer session yesterday to the only group of people out of the 624,000-strong city who can vote in the election. He needs to secure at least half of the committee's support on August 31 to win a second five-year term in office despite being unopposed.

Although he said he was determined to improve the administration's efficiency, he appeared indifferent towards democrats' demand to kick start the public consultation on political reform no later than next year. "You have heard of some opinions while I have also heard of some opinions, too. Everybody has a different view," said Chui, referring to the democrats' call as he addressed reporters' questions after the forum.

Unlike Hong Kong's Basic Law, Macau's mini-constitution does not list universal suffrage as a goal. Chui said he was not in a position to comment on whether the current election method would hamper the government's credibility.

He said housing would be the government's top priority in his next term and promised an additional 32,000 flats would be built - with 28,000 being public housing - by 2020 in an area of reclaimed land.

Chui also said the next administration should control the rapid growth of the city's flourishing gaming business as it had also brought social problems. The casinos in Macau, the only place in China where gambling is legal, generated income of more than 306.8 billion patacas in 2012.

"We want the business to develop in a healthy way and also want to strike a balance between the gaming and non-gaming elements [in the city]," he said.

Chui also promised to offer different kinds of job opportunities in the city.

SJM Holdings chief executive Ambrose So Shu-fai, one of the committee members, said controlling the growth of casinos was needed.

But a young pro-democracy activist was less impressed by Chui's pledge.

Kuan Un-san, president of Macao Youth Dynamics, said: "Chui has been promising to build an open government and diversify Macau's economy every year … but I can't see he has ever put his words into action."

Democracy campaigners will hold an unofficial referendum similar to the Occupy Central poll in Hong Kong to give the city's residents a say. Beijing has denounced the poll as illegal.