CE longing for job-free life after decade of hard work

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Issue 873, Page 3
Word count: 1406
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

It was not a formal press conference that the Chief Executive usually gave at the government headquarters every year after delivering the policy blueprint. In contrast, the setting at Santa Sancha yesterday seemed more like a casual meeting with the media, but one thing remained the same – questions from the reporters and answers from the Chief Executive.

The meeting yesterday was believed to be one of the last meet-the-press events chaired by Edmund Ho Hau Wah before the end of his term on December 20.

Reporters’ questions mainly focused on how Mr Ho perceived his performance in the past decade, his advices to successor Fernando Chui Sai On, the Ao Man Long case, the recent Galaxy Cotai land grant, the development of Sino-Portuguese culture, changes in principal officials in the next government, as well as what his plan would be after leaving Macau’s top job.

Reporter: What did you gain and loss over the past 10 years as the Chief Executive? How do you see your performance and what grade will you give yourself?

CE: I’ve asked myself many times about how my performance was in the 10 years of work. But it’s very hard to answer as there is no objective standard. I had tried my best in everything but it was impossible to have the best result every time.

However, I don’t think I have any regret at my work so far or anything that made me particularly excited and proud of myself. We can never expect the outcome to be exactly like whatever we want due to the influences of many external factors.

Macau has certainly attained certain achievements during the 10 years but there are also shortcomings. Nevertheless, I think nothing could be done if we were without the support from civil servants, the general public and the Chinese central government.

It’s also very hard to give myself a grade because there is no objective standard.

The SAR government has made progress for sure, but we cannot expect it to achieve so much in just 10 years. Don’t forget that the government almost started from scratch in the beginning. But I believe it will continue to progress in the future and integrate with the quality of society.

R: What expectations do you have on Fernando Chui Sai On?

CE: I have decided that I will not comment on and discuss about politics and the government after leaving the post, which is a requirement for me and also for the political personality. No matter what I say it must be interpreted into many different meanings. Nevertheless, I must support the next government to implement policies in line with law and I have complete confidence in it.

R: How do you see some people saying you should shoulder responsibilities in the Ao Man Long case? Why you never comment on it?

CE: In a free society people are allowed to express their own opinions. It’s not about whether or not I will comment on the case, but some related cases are still pending trials and thus I must have to safeguard the principles of judicial independence and secrecy.

I already expected before that some people must say I was afraid of something or the case was just a tip of the iceberg. But I think it is worth the cost, or otherwise the cost we have to bear in the future will be much greater.

As for granting land at extremely low premiums, the government understands the concern but I believe that with the setting up of the land concession follow-up committee at the Assembly and officials’ responses to lawmakers’ interpellation in the future, the issue will become clear eventually.

R: In a recent interview given by Pansy Ho Chui King on a newspaper, she criticised Galaxy’s recent land grant and said the government was unfair to MGM Grand…

CE: If the words really came from Ms Ho, she should understand that back in 2002 no one was interested in developing Cotai. At that time the government had asked the gaming operators but none of them was keen to leave the Macau peninsula. Yet, in 2002 the Venetian and Galaxy had already promised to fully develop Cotai in order to implement their investment projects.

Unfortunately the government in 2008 decided to control land concessions to gaming operators, and therefore we could not grant the land parcel to MGM Grand as fast as it used to be. Ms Ho thought it was unfair, but it was inevitable as it’s impossible for the government to satisfy everyone’s needs.

R: How do you see the development of the gaming industry? Would it be better if you could start it all over again?

CE: Everything must become better if we could start again from the beginning. The gaming industry had undergone formal development only for around five years. Despite during which society had to suffer from some costs, I still think the development gave Macau more positive than negative impact.

Yet, it’s too early to comment on the gaming industry. We need to wait until after one generation so that we can have a more scientific, objective and balanced evaluation.

R: How will you comment on the development of Portuguese language in Macau and the relations between Macau and Portuguese-speaking countries?

CE: I’m very glad because the development is already beyond my expectation. People recognise and value the Sino-Portuguese culture in Macau. After the 1999 handover, Portugal and Macau have further strengthened the ties and we are able to maintain a very friendship relationship.

R: Speaking from the political level, don’t you think you should clarify yourself in the Ao Man Long case and not let the rumours spread around? Also, what are you planning to do after December 20?

CE: We must have to maintain the foundation of trusting the capability of the judicial institutes. I cannot only look at my personal political image. We have to first believe in the courts that everyone who is involved in the case must be prosecuted. We cannot let the judicial institutes be influenced by political and personal factors. Even if I could clear my image by clarifying myself, I don’t think it’s appropriate to do so.

As for the second question, I don’t have time to think about it and I’m also not in a rush to decide. But the chief executive and principal officials regulations will be out soon, which states that I cannot work for anyone in the first three years after leaving the government, unless it’s an appointment from the Chinese central government or approved by the Chief Executive. I want to take the opportunity to have a good rest and enjoy a life that doesn’t have much to do – a reward for myself after 10 years of hard work.

Also, I’ve already decided that I won’t get myself involved in any social organisations in the future.

R: Is it true that the incumbent CCAC and Audit Commissioners will be leaving the posts? And why the secretaries will be retained when the public generally deem some of them are doing a bad job?

CE: No matter I know it or not I should not release any details about the name list of the key officials in the next government. They are all chosen by Fernando Chui Sai On and appointed by the Chinese central government.

But I strongly believe that Chui will fulfil commitments made during the election and any personnel arrangement is to complement with his policy objectives.

R: Do you think you had made any mistakes in selecting the principal officials for your government? And will you plan to return to the business sector after the three years of job restriction?

CE: It was absolutely a correct decision, although one of them [Ao Man Long] had some problems. However, it was still part of the process in the development of the SAR and it was not possible that no problem would occur in between. The key is to try our very best to avoid the same problems from happening again.

As for the second question, nothing is absolute but I can tell you it’s very very likely that I won’t go back to the business sector after three years. I think it will be my greatest support for the future government if I choose not to do anything and also it’s pointless for me to do something that will get me annoyed.

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