The past few weeks have seen Macau's post-handover government begin to take shape, indicating the emergence of a political system led by a strong executive. Most of Macau's future figures attended the National Day celebrations in Beijing last week. The 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China coincided with Macau's 80-day countdown to the handover, an auspicious number in Chinese numerology. Chief Executive-designate Edmund Ho Hau-wah has nearly completed his top political appointments. He designated five future policy secretaries in August and appointed 10 executive councillors and seven legislators last month. Mr Ho chose to make a near clean sweep. Just one of the seven lawmakers appointed by the outgoing government, Macanese lawyer Jose Rodrigues, has boarded the legislative through-train reaching its terminus in October 2001, and only one of the 10 members of the governor's Consultative Council, manufacturer Liu Chak-wan, has joined the future Executive Council. While some of the appointees are confidants of Mr Ho, other appointments are seen as the outcome of a political gambit. Banker Stanley Au Chong-kit, who failed in his bid for the post of chief executive, won the consolation prize of a seat in the legislature and outspoken Legislative Assembly member Vitor Ng Weng-lok, who was assaulted by thugs in late August, was elevated to simultaneous membership of the Executive Council, which meets in camera. While Tung Chee-hwa's 14 executive councillors include just three policy secretaries and one legislator, Mr Ho's five policy secretaries fill half of his Executive Council, which also includes three legislators. Under the Macau Basic Law, the Executive Council may have between seven and 11 members. Hong Kong's 60-member legislature does not have any lawmakers appointed by the executive. Macau's chief executive can rely on the 'iron vote' of seven appointed lawmakers at least during the next three legislative terms. Under the Basic Law, the present duality of elected legislators and those appointed by the government may be reviewed 'if necessary' only in 2009. However, while the legislature's number of elected members will gradually increase from the present 16 to 22 in the next decade, the number of seven appointed lawmakers will remain unchanged in the next 10 years. Some local analysts have defended the system of appointed legislators, insisting that it will benefit minority interests that otherwise would be unable to gain legislative representation, apart from being appropriate to the enclave's traditional system of informal consultations and consensus politics. Others regard the system of appointed legislators as an oligarchical anachronism. Mr Ho has said he will nominate the future chiefs of police and customs only after the handover, since the appointments could only be made in tandem with the two portfolios' planned restructuring. The point is that Macau has still to set up a customs service, apart from the possible merger of some of the enclave's various police forces in an attempt to improve efficiency and discipline. The chief executive's top appointments to the bench, including the post-handover Court of Final Appeal, have just been announced, resulting in the world's reputedly youngest chief justice, 38-year-old Court of Final Appeal president Sam Hou Fai. About one-third of the 24 appointees are local Portuguese, the remainder being ethnic Chinese. Macau's post-handover political and judicial systems will be a mix of Portugal's historical legacy and China's ubiquitous clout.