Fernando Chui Sai-on surprised no one in being selected as Macau's chief executive yesterday, but the sole candidate failed to secure full endorsement, receiving four fewer votes than nominations. The former culture minister received 282 votes from the 300- member Election Committee, compared with the 286 nominations he garnered last month from the small circle of electors. Also, one of 297 members who showed up for the vote at the Macau Dome stadium withheld his ballot in protest against a lack of democracy, while 14 members cast blank ballots. In the chief executive poll in 2004, Edmund Ho Hau-wah, the sole candidate, won 296 votes from the 300 Election Committee members. An analyst said Dr Chui faced an uphill battle to win over the Macau public, while an internet poll continued to suggest that he would be an unpopular leader. Legislator and Election Committee member Jose Coutinho said he withheld his ballot to show his disagreement with the electoral system. 'We need to change the way we elect our chief executive to allow more candidates in the competition,' Mr Coutinho said. He also complained that the voting process was hardly secret, with voters marking their ballots on an open floor in front of each other and election workers. 'I could see whether or not those sitting beside me marked their ballots,' he said. 'It might be seen by election workers or even be captured by surveillance cameras, if any.' But Dr Chui said he was pleased with the high number of votes and thanked all voters for their support. 'As for the 14 members who cast empty ballots, I respect their voting decision,' he said. 'In my future work, I will try to collect views from a wide population.' Gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun, a key supporter of Dr Chui, said those who had cast blank ballots had done the wrong thing and should 'feel uncomfortable'. Dr Chui pledged to 'stay in the same boat with Macau residents' after he took office. 'We shall enhance people's quality of life and make Macau a great place to live and work in,' he said. Edmund Ho will officially hand over the reins in December. Political commentator Larry So Man-yum said Dr Chui faced a big challenge to win the hearts of Macau residents given the city's worsening social problems. 'Problems related to public housing, land sales, medical care ... will pose a huge challenge to the new government,' he said. 'But Dr Chui has not faced up to the problems, judging from his election platform.' Dr Chui ranks last in an internet poll that asks people to choose from four possible candidates. Although rendered pointless by the nomination of Dr Chui as sole candidate, the poll still attracts voters. Of 30,019 votes cast, chief prosecutor Ho Chio-meng has 24,124, finance minister Francis Tam Pak-yuen 2,360, industrialist Ho Iat-seng 1,983, and Dr Chui 1,552, or 5.2 per cent. The central government's liaison office in Macau said it was pleased to see Dr Chui elected with such a high number of votes, adding that the city's future would be even better with the new leadership and strong support from the central authorities.