Chui vows political independence from family

Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Issue 713, Page 1 – 2
Word count: 1106
Published in: Macau Daily Times

Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Fernando Chui Sai On pledged yesterday that his family’s extensive influence and business in Macau would not weaken his determination to build a “clean government” and become a “law-abiding” chief executive.

He made the remark when answering to reporters’ questions at the press conference, which was held after his election agent lawyer Vong Hin Fai collected a nomination form from the Election Co-ordination Centre in the morning.

The ex-social affairs and culture secretary also officially announced his election manifesto in front of the media mainly from Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China.

“If I am elected Chief Executive, I shall fully execute the principle of ‘Macau people ruling Macau’ with ‘a high degree of autonomy’ under ‘one country, two systems’ through the full and true implementation of the Basic Law of the Macau SAR.

“I shall continue to push forward the building of Macau as a harmonious society and for the sustainable development of Macau’s economy.

“Upholding the ‘people-oriented approach’, I shall focus on the difficulties and challenges that we encounter, transform the government into a truly clean and highly efficient one, and consistently improve the quality of life for the people of Macau,” Chui read out his commitment to Macau.

Although to date Chui is the only person having declared he will run for the July 26 third Chief Executive Election, four other local residents yesterday went to the China Plaza to pick up election nomination forms.

They include a doctor, a casino dealer and a primary school teacher.

After the election manifesto, Chui started to take questions from the floor, in which each reporter having been selected was restricted to pose two questions only.

Criticisms towards Chui in relations to the over-budget 2005 East Asian Games and his family being one of the big clans in Macau have been reported on the Internet and news coverage since Chui announced his resignation from the post of the social affairs and culture secretary on May 12.

Asked what he would do to strive for more confidence from society, Chui first pointed out that at the same time he also received “a lot of support and positive opinions regarding to my work”.

He said that he was “open to criticisms”, but only when they are substantial.

“As long as they [criticisms] are based on facts, I’ll value and analysis them and then try to improve myself,” he added.

Chui also said that opinions need to be heard at any time, but “mainstream opinions will have a higher leading effect in society”.

According to the Macau Basic Law, universal suffrage and a democratic political system will be achieved “progressively”.

Hence in last year the SAR government implemented the first step by revising the Voter Registration Act, the Chief Executive Election Law and the Legislative Assembly Election Law.

Chui said that if he was being elected as Macau’s next leader, he will carry out a study to find out how local people think about a direct election and the results will be used as a foundation of his agendas.

Just right after Chui having said that he will welcome criticisms and opinions, a Mandarin speaking reporter asked him to “reconsider running for the election and choose another family member to substitute him as the other one may have a more positive political background”.

Without giving any response, Chui went on to answer another question.

The ex-secretary vowed that integrity building is one of the most important agendas in the future, which will also become the “foundation of the entire government administration and policy-making”.

However, the reporters did not change the focus immediately but kept pushing Chui for a more “satisfactory” answer.

Chui thus responded that “people could never choose which family they were born into.

“I will serve Macau whole-heartedly and be a chief executive who is willing to take up responsibilities. People should not be worried that I will do something unlawful because of my family,” Chui said.

“As a chief executive, the requirements [of being clean and honest] are even tougher but are also essential,” he added.

Having refused to speculate how many competitors he may have or how many nominations he could get from the Election Committee, Chui only said that he and his campaign office will try their best to obtain nominations “as many as possible” and are confident in getting them.

The Chief Executive Election Law states that in order to become a candidate, he or she must have to acquire at least 50 nominations from the 300-member Election Committee.

In addition, each committee member is allowed to nominate one person only.

Chui’s election campaign office is already in operation with 15 members since yesterday.

He said that the next stage is to promote his political platform to the public during the campaign period from July 11 to July 24.

As restricted by the election law, political platform can only be announced on July 11 the earliest.

Chui said that more detailed plans of how to govern Macau in the next five years will be disclosed as part of his political platform.

As the nomination period will end on June 23 before any political platforms can be made public, Chui was questioned about how he would convince people that it is not a “small-circle” election.

Yet, Chui said that the dates were not decided by neither him nor his team, adding that his campaign office will only work according to the law and timetable.

On the other hand, in the middle of a press conference a Asian woman, who said her name is Amanda and works in “Yazhou Zhoukan” (Asia Weekly) and is the representative of international students, residents and “cyber citizens”, stood up and demanded Chui to explain how he could avoid the issue of family interests.

She held up a paper saying it was the contract of Chui’s older brother buying a two million square foot land parcel on the Cotai at a price of just 100 patacas a square foot.

She told the media after the press conference that she was “very dissatisfied” as Chui avoided to give her an answer, adding that she hoped Macau could be “ruled by laws, not businesspeople”.

“Macau’s [chief executive] election is a joke. He [Chui] didn’t know how to respond because what I said is a fact,” she said.

However, Chui’s election campaign office issued a statement last night which said that the editorial board of “Yazhou Zhoukan” confirmed that they did not send any reporters to Chui’s press conference yesterday.

The campaign office said that it reserves the right to take legal actions.

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