Chui retains most key officials – except the Audit Commissioner

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Issue 878, Page 1 & 2
Word count: 1110
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Chief Executive-designate Fernando Chui Sai On officially announced the names of the principal officials for his cabinet, but reporters’ eyes were mostly drawn to the fact that the incumbent Audit Commissioner, who has repeatedly revealed misuse of public funds by officials including the 2005 East Asian Games, will not stay on the post.

The successor of Edmund Ho Hau Wah introduced to the media the 10 principal officials and Prosecutor-General for the third-term of the SAR government at the government headquarters yesterday.

Apart from the posts of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, the anti-corruption commissioner and the Audit Commissioner, the other seven incumbent key officials and Prosecutor-General will stay to assist Mr Chui beginning December 20 this year.

As what the local media had previously reported or speculated, incumbent graft-buster Cheong U has been nominated by the Chief Executive-designate to be the next Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, while Fong Man Chong, who had just been promoted to be a judge at the Court of Second Instance this month, is to succeed Cheong U to lead the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC).

In addition, current chief of the Chief Executive’s Office, Ho Veng On, has been appointed the Audit Commissioner, meaning Fatima Choi Mei Lei will be replaced after 10 years on the job.

In regard to the other (unchanged) key posts, Florinda Chan will remain to be the Secretary for Administration and Justice, Francis Tam Pak Yuen the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Cheong Kuoc Va the Secretary for Security, Lau Si Io the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Jose Branco the Unitary Police Commissioner-General, Choi Lai Hang the Customs Director-General, and also Ho Chio Meng the Prosecutor-General of the Public Prosecutions Office.

All the names were nominated by Mr Chui and then appointed by the Chinese central government on Monday.

“I and my cabinet will continue to execute the policies of ‘one-country, two systems’, ‘Macau people ruling Macau’ and high degree of autonomy, and also to fully implement the Macau Basic Law,” the Chief-Executive-designate said at the press conference.

Mr Chui in the meantime announced that Tam Chon Weng, chief of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture’s Office, will become chief of the Chief Executive’s Office succeeding Ho Veng On.

All other existing personnel and staff in the Chief Executive’s Office and the Government Head Office Auxiliary Bureau will also keep their jobs despite the transition in the government.

Vice president of the Macao Sport Development Board, O Lam, has been appointed advisor to the Chief Executive’s Office to assist in organising policy research institutes, and Tam Ka Wa will become Mr Chui’s assistant and quit the post of advisor to the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture’s Office.

In spite of all these changes introduced by the next Chief Executive, the media were mostly concerned about why Audit Commissioner Fatima Choi Mei Lei, who has been generally complimented by the public for having exposed mistakes made by the government particularly the abuse of public funds, cannot stay on the post.

The audit reports released between 2007 and 2008 showed that the 2005 East Asian Games, which was held under the portfolio of Mr Chui who was still the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture at that time, ran over budget by 70 percent or around one billion patacas.

More misuse of public funds and irregularities were also brought to light in recent audit reports involving the Motor Vehicle Valuation Committee under the Financial Services Bureau and the then Environmental Committee.

When answering to a reporter’ question, the Chief Executive-designate denied any connection between the audit reports and the replacement of Fatima Choi, adding that changes in posts during a government transition were “normal”.

He also stressed that neither development of the CCAC nor the Audit Commission would be affected due to the presence of new leaders.

Mr Chui said that the officials were nominated because “they share the same philosophy of governance and determination to serve Macau and the motherland”, and also “have the capability and experience to fulfill Macau people’s demands”.

He also made it clear that he will not comment on the same matter again as he has to “respect the individual’s wishes” of some officials. He did not disclose any details about the future job arrangement of Ms Choi.

On the other hand, the incumbent Audit Commissioner told reporters in her office yesterday she was “not surprised” that she will have to leave the post.

Ms Choi said that she had expressed to Mr Ho and Mr Chui earlier that she was considering not to stay as the Audit Commissioner in the next term of the government as she hoped to bring in “new blood” and “new ideas” to Macau’s audit work.

However, she pointed out that no “serious discussion” was initiated at that time and the final decision was made by the Chief Executive-designate.

She said that she will respect Mr Chui’s decision and is willing to continue to stay in the civil service.

The Audit Commissioner also reiterated that audit is an independent job that functions as a “watchdog” for the government, and thus no politics should be involved but the most important thing is to “complete the work with high quality”.

Future plans

Mr Chui said in his speech that to promote a “sunshine government” and integrity construction will be the priority in the next government.

After the Chief Executive-designate and the principal officials assume office on December 20, Mr Chui said they will first have to prepare for the Policy Address to be announced at the Legislative Assembly in March next year.

“Besides adopting measures to deal with the impact brought by the global financial crisis, we will have to review livelihood issues, push forward economic diversification, upgrade the healthcare system and construct an island hospital, increase educational investments, as well as scientifically plan the public housing construction and transportation networks and facilities,” he said.

“In the next year we will set up a special policy research institute which will serve as the government’s high-level think tank to facilitate the implementation of scientific policy-making… at the same time dedicated to establish a financial reserve system and a government spokesman system,” he added.

The Chief Executive’s Office yesterday also issued a statement to congratulate the 10 key officials and Prosecutor-General for having been appointed by the State Council.

Mr Ho wished them to make new contributions and achievements on their posts.

He also said he believed that under the leadership of Mr Chui, the third-term Macau SAR government together with the Macau residents must be able to take the implementation of ‘one-country-two systems’ to “a new height”.

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