Incoming chief executive vows to unite Macao society to take part in national development

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/9/12 14:19:43

Ho Iat Seng speaks after being elected at the Macao East Asian Games Dome, Macao, south China, Aug. 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

Ho Iat Seng, incoming chief executive (CE) of China's Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), has pledged to unite Macao society and lead Macao to participate in China's development.

Ho made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua after he was appointed as the fifth-term chief executive of the Macao SAR by China's State Council on Sept. 4.

Ho won the chief executive election with 392 of 400 valid votes on Aug. 25 and will assume office on Dec. 20, 2019.

In the interview, Ho stressed that he will strictly implement the Basic Law of Macao SAR and ensure that the "one country, two systems" principle does not become distorted in Macao.

Being elected as the chief executive of Macao SAR is a great responsibility for him, he said, and he is determined and confident to implement the principles of "one country, two systems," "Macao people governing Macao" and a high degree of autonomy, he said.

He will unite all sectors of Macao society, lead the new SAR government in governing the region in accordance with the law, carry out various work, and actively integrate Macao into the national development, he added.


Ho said over the past 20 years since Macao's return to China, the principle of "one country, two systems" had been firmly implemented, and the legislature had successively enacted Article 23 of the Basic Law, and amended the laws on the national flag, the national emblem and the national anthem.

He mentioned that in January 2019 when he was the president of Macao SAR's legislature, the legislature passed the Bill on the Use and Protection of the National Flag, National Emblem and National Anthem.

"I'm very honored that when I had resigned from my post as chairman of Macao SAR legislature, I took a deep bow to the national flag, the national emblem, and the flag and emblem of Macao SAR which were hung on the hall of legislature assembly," Ho said.

Ho reiterated that China's constitution entrusts the Basic Law of Macao SAR with powers, and Macao SAR government's executive power comes from the Basic Law. The new SAR government will continue to strictly implement the Basic Law so that the practice of "one country, two systems" in Macao will remain undistorted.

"The law is very clear, we can't go beyond the framework stipulated by the law. The local laws of Macao must abide by the framework of the Basic Law," said Ho, who was also a member of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC).

"Although I am not a law student, the idea of law has been inscribed on my mind through 20 years of working experience in Macao's legislature and Standing Committee of the NPC. You have to understand the law before everything, that is my way of doing work," said the incoming chief executive.


Macao's economy relies mainly on the gaming industry, the central government and Macao SAR government have actively promoted a moderately diversified economy in recent years.

To achieve such a goal, Ho said, the technology industry development with its target on the Chinese mainland market is a key task for the new SAR government.

Ho said Macao should make full use of its university resources and transform them into industries with high-tech products, such as 5G telecommunication and other emerging industries.

Ho had a long experience in Macao's manufacture industry and once served as vice president of the Macao Chamber of Commerce. He has a deep understanding of Macao's economy.

It won't be easy to cultivate industries in Macao where median monthly wage can range from 18,000 patacas (about 2,230 U.S. dollars) to 22,000 patacas (about 2,726 dollars), Ho told Xinhua.

Ho said Macao also faces the competition in Southeast Asia, and lacks the competitiveness to develop labor-intensive industries. Since the central government asked Macao to pursue moderate diversification of its economy, the SAR government needs to think carefully about what industries Macao should develop in future.

Ho took generic drug production as an example. According to him, if the central government offer Macao supportive policies, Macao could use its connections with the European Union to attract advanced equipment and talents from the world, manufacture the generic drugs in Macao and then sell them to the huge mainland market.


Ho Iat Seng said Macao should get prepared before cooperating with other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).

"Many Macao people have a misconception that Macao is not in the GBA, Macao people have to go to the mainland to participate in the GBA development. I told them, you are in Macao which is a part of GBA, we can play our role here," Ho said.

The Outline Development Plan for the GBA which was issued this year has put Macao as one of four central cities in the GBA. Ho believed that Macao's position is very clear, which is "one center, one platform, one base."

"Macao's over 400-year history of cultural exchanges between China and the West has left many precious heritages, such as the first lighthouse and the first university in the Far East, which have not been well-developed for now. That is Macao's unique position in the GBA," Ho said.

He also reiterated the importance of cultural heritage in Macao, such as historical relics, the Macanese culture, different food from the East and the West.

"It is easier to make a brand new copy than the original one, but that is not the history," Ho said.

The development of traditional Chinese medicine industry and cultural exchange base in Macao can also gradually help the tourism industry development in neighboring cities of Zhongshan and Zhuhai, Ho added.

After each city in the GBA find its role and position in overall development plan, cities can cooperate with each other. For example, Macao and Hengqin Island of Zhuhai can work together to make the best advantage of themselves, Ho said.


In his political platform issued during the campaign, Ho Iat Seng had put forward his plan for future work with five sections, including public governance, diversified economy, people's livelihood, youth development and cultural cooperation. People's livelihood is a part which Ho is most concerned about.

Ho said, at present, the SAR government has invested quite a lot of resources, the issue is not whether the input is enough, but whether those resources are put into right place efficiently.

He mentioned that Macao's land resources are limited, and housing is a difficult issue for young people and "sandwich class," who are neither eligible to apply for public rental housing nor able to afford private housing. Most of them can only ask their parents for help.

"If this issue can be solved, young people can afford their houses and old people can enjoy their retired life. This is not only about housing, but also about whether the people are satisfied and happy, about how well they are living," Ho said.

Talking about urban renewal, one of the most concerned issues in Macao, Ho said, it is his "biggest challenge."

"But if we take the first step in the right direction, I believe we can do the job," Ho said, adding that if the government set good examples in urban renewal, the community will understand and cooperate.


Talking about education and future development of young people in Macao, Ho said that most schools in Macao have implemented the education policy of loving the country and loving Macao, including the missionary schools.

The youth in Macao have a wide range of options after graduating from the middle schools, either they would go to the universities in the mainland, or they would stay in Macao, he added.

Nevertheless, many young people can only choose to work in the gaming industry after graduation due to limited industries in Macao, the SAR government should give more guidance on the youth employment, and industries should coordinate with universities to provide young people more suitable courses in the class and more employment opportunities after graduation, he said.

Loving the country and loving Macao has always been the core value of Macao's society, which has also been deeply rooted in education at all stages in Macao. Ho said that some education representatives have suggested that there should be such a patriotic education base in Macao as a permanent exhibition venue to show China's historical development since modern time.

"I think it is a good idea, just as Macao holds a national security education exhibition every year, there should be a regular exhibition about our history," he said.

Ho said that only using textbooks to teach young people about what the country has gone through is not enough. He suggested that young people should watch more relevant historical films from the mainland to know more about the country's history.

He also said that a visit to such an exhibition venue can be a compulsory course for Macao's students, allowing them to know more about the national conditions and understand the hard-won achievements of the country's development.


Ho's long experience as a deputy of China's NPC and a member of the NPC Standing Committee, as well as two terms of president of Macao SAR Legislative Assembly, has given him deep understanding both about the country and Macao.

He was deeply inspired by the views of his colleagues in the Standing Committee from many different perspectives on the country's reform and opening up, the legal system and national policies.

Ho, who has been a member of the NPC Standing Committee for nearly 20 years, has witnessed the enactment, revision and perfection of many laws. The 20 years have been a period of high-level building-up of the legal system, and great importance has been attached to the work of ruling the country according to law, he said.

Referring to his role transition from legislature to chief executive, he said he is no stranger to government work, as he had served as a member of the executive council of Macao and worked in government departments.

Through his 10 years' experience in the Legislative Assembly, he has been able to think closely about people's needs. In future, when he will work as head of SAR government, he will remind himself whether the policies are close to people's needs or not, Ho said.

"For example, in the long run, the policy is good, but the public does not understand it for the time being. If you can explain and make it clear, the public may not worry about it very much," he said.

"According to my 10 years of experience in the Legislative Assembly, close communication is what our executive authorities need to do," he said.


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