By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The 10th anniversary of the founding of the Macau SAR was not only marked by the two-day celebration events, but also the 28-hour visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao who has promised to give Macau a pair of pandas and also pinned hopes on the third-term SAR government led by Chief Executive Fernando Chiu Sai On.
The Macau government started the big day at 8am yesterday with a flag rising ceremony at the Golden Lotus Square.
It was followed by the inauguration of the principal officials of the new SAR government at the Macau Dome, where around 1,400 officials from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau and also public figures were invited to witness the special moment.
Mr Chui entered the venue along with the Chinese President, and stepped onto the stage shortly to swear in as the Chief Executive of the Macau SAR, which was administered by President Hu.
The ceremony marked the official end of Edmund Ho Hau Wah’s term of office who had been heading Macau over the past decade after the 1999 handover.
The key government officials and the Public Prosecutor-General afterwards took their oaths, administered by President Hu and the Third Chief Executive of Macau.
The Executive Council members also swore in on the stage.
Delivering his first speech as formally being the Macau Chief Executive, Mr Chui said for years the motherland had always been a “strong backing” to the maintenance of Macau’s prosperity and stability,,
“Ten years ago, when the regional flag of Macao rose by the side of the five-start red flag, the concept of ‘one country, two systems’ started to inject new dynamics into Macao,” Mr Chui said.
“We have been unswervingly implemented the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, under which Macao people administer Macao with a high degree of autonomy and the Basic Law of Macao SAR,” he added.
According to the former social affairs and culture secretary, the third-term government would “firmly adhere” to the “people-oriented” concept of governance, and would inherit and innovate.
When looking to the future, Mr Chui said Macau should in the next five years “actively promote diversified development at an appropriate level”.
He stressed that attention would also be put on the convention and exhibition logistics industries, cultural and creative industry as well as the upgrade and transformation of the traditional industries apart from enhancing the regulation on gaming.
“We will continue to optimise the allocation of government resources on medical care facilities and education. We will carry out the construction of public housing and urban planning and try our best to improve Macao people’s lives,” Mr Chui said.
“…We will pay special attention to training and preserving of talents, optimise human resources, raise our competitiveness and make sure that the great cause of ‘one country, two systems’ will be carried on from generation to generation,” he added.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, who arrived in Macau on Saturday morning with his wife Liu Yongqing and a delegation of government officials, then gave a 16-minute speech at the end of the inauguration.
President Ho recognised Edmund Ho Hau Wah’s contribution in maintaining Macau’s prosperity and stability and also making the territory progress despite all the challenges and difficulties during the past 10 years.
Reviewing the decade of experience of Macau, he highlighted five main points which the SAR must continue to uphold.
“Firstly, it is important to have a correct interpretation of the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ and enforce it accordingly,” the President said.
He added that the key was to safeguard Macau’s original socio-economic system and living style, but at the same time also defend national sovereignty, unity and security, and respect the socialist system being exercised in the country.
“Secondly, it is important to strictly adhere to the Macau Basic Law, which reigns supreme in the “Thirdly, [Macau] must concentrate on promoting development. Through the wisdom and efforts of all Macau people, we can devote more attention to all-round, coordinated and sustainable development, thus enhancing its resistance to all kinds of financial risks.”
“Fourthly, [Macau] should safeguard social harmony and stability by all means. Having a good security environment, peaceful social ambience and stable development is a luck shared by the entire Macau society,” President Hu said.
Lastly, the Chinese President reiterated that it is necessary to nurture different types of talents in a bid to raise the competitiveness of Macau in a long term basis.
In the meeting after the inauguration, the Chinese President congratulated Mr Chui on assuming office as Macau’s third-term Chief Executive. He said that the central government placed extensive trust in Mr Chui and hoped he would not let people down in uniting the SAR and leading it towards a better future.
President Hu said Mr Chui should work based on the following beliefs – putting people as the first priority, uniting Macau, enhancing government efficiency and also upholding integrity.
In a separate meeting with representatives from different local sectors, including the former Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah, President Ho called for social unity and all people’s support for the new government in promoting growth and stability.
President Hu afterwards inspected the People’s Liberation Army Macau Garrison, and praised them for their important role in maintaining Macau’s prosperity and stability.
Hengqin campus construction began
President Hu, accompanied by Chief Executive Chui Sai On and State Councillor Liu Yandong, laid the foundation stone of the new campus of the University of Macau (UM) on Hengqin Island in the afternoon.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Liu said that building the university campus on Hengqin was a “significant strategy” of the central government in supporting Macau’s education development.
She said she believed that the UM had played a vital role in nurturing local talents and the new campus would further enhance this role by providing the institution with more space for development.
Stressing the Chinese President’s expectations on the university, Ms Liu said she hoped it would become one of the best tertiary institutions in the world, with world class facilities, faculties, talents and research.
Meanwhile, Mr Chui said the SAR government would use the project as a starting point for establishing closer co-operation with Guangdong and also regional integration in line with the “Reform of the Pearl River Delta Region Development Plan”.
Covering about 1.09 square kilometres, the Hengqin campus is about 20 times the size of the existing campus in Taipa.
After the construction is completed in three years’ time, the campus will be able to accommodate up to 10,000 students.
Since Macau is allowed to exercise jurisdiction over the campus, local residents commuting between the new facility and Macau will not be subject to immigration checks.
The Chinese President returned to Beijing after the groundbreaking ceremony at around 5pm, marking the end of his second visit in Macau since 2004.
According to director of the Chinese Liaison Office in Macau, Bai Zhijian, who summarized the Chinese delegation’s Macau trip to the media, said that President Hu wished Mr Chui could “pass on the successful experiences from the past and continue the good traditions, but have an innovative mind when facing problems and also uphold the ‘five main points’ in the future”.
Mr Bai also said the President’s visits to the Science Centre, a local family (the three generations in the family all worked in the teaching profession) and the Hengqin campus showed that he paid “high attention to education and training of talents”.
The SAR government afterwards hosted a cocktail reception to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Macau SAR at the Macau Tower.
In addition, Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau performed at the Macau Stadium in the afternoon, which attracted thousands of people to celebrate the anniversary day with some popular Chinese songs.
At 9pm, Macau gave its largest-scale firework display ever at seven different locations to conclude the two-day long celebration activities.