Macau leader Dr Fernando Chui comes out fighting over future of gambling hub

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 May, 2015, 7:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 May, 2015, 10:08am

Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on has come out fighting with a message of positivity on the future of the ailing gambling hub, urging residents to stay positive and patient despite a collapse in gaming revenue.

Chui took the unusual move of recording his thoughts and making the audio file of the speech available on the government’s website on Sunday – the first time he had shared one of his speeches in such a way.

In the speech, Chui pointed to the former Portuguese enclave’s low unemployment rate, stable and strong fiscal picture and a slew of lucrative investment projects that were unfolding normally. He also cited a Lonely Planet study that rated the city as one of the 10 regions of the world to visit this year as a sign of a positive overall trend.

His comments came in the face of months of grim economic news as Beijing’s crackdown on graft and conspicuous consumption cut the supply of high-rollers whose massive spending has fuelled Macau’s transformation into the world’s biggest gaming hub. Gaming revenue for March was down 39.4 per cent year on year, the 10th consecutive month of slumping revenue.

Chui said: “Recently, the gaming industry, one of the economic pillars of Macau has entered a period of adjustment and consolidation. The local economy is adjusting its speed, hence the concerns we have identified in society.”

He stressed Macau still maintained its advantages, and one source of its stamina arose from the “one country, two systems” principle, which he said ensured a stable and harmonious society.

Its objective now was to diversify its economy to non-gambling tourism and make Macau a world centre for tourism and leisure, Chui said.

“Our objectives are clear; our direction is right. Just follow towards the same goal, united in heart and strength for us to overcome all the difficulties and challenges posed before us. It is a goal that we can certainly achieve,” he said in an upbeat tone.

 He ended the speech by wishing the city’s mothers a happy Mother’s Day.