2009 Review: The ‘double-election’ year is much more than just elections

Thursday, December 31, 2009
Issue 905, Page 8 – 12
Word count: 5578
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

2009 is a year full of “important events” as most of the Macau people say, particularly in the political scene. The enactment of the National Security Law, the Imported Labour Law and also the power expansion of the graft buster were yet just some of the highlights. If you ask a resident to name one political event happened during this year, it’s very likely that nine out of 10 answers are either the Third Chief Executive Election or the Fourth Legislative Assembly Elections. And that’s why 2009 is often called the “double-election year”.

However, 2009 is also a year that marked the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Macau SAR, and most importantly the second visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao in Macau.

Since New Year is just around the corner, it’s now the time again for the Macau Daily Times to take our readers back to the beginning of this year and refresh their memories so that they will know what political issues are going to mark the year 2009.

National Security Law

Batteries were fully charged. Lawmakers cleared their minds during the Christmas and New Year holidays, and the Legislative Assembly decided to take the opportunity and start 2009 with something big – put the anti-subversion bill on the table in the very first plenary meeting of the year on January 5.

The government-drafted bill was announced by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah on October 23, 2008. Prescribed by Article 23 of the Macau Basic Law, the draft proposed seven kinds of subversion acts that could put offenders in prison for up to 25 years.

A majority of the lawmakers cast a favourable vote and recognised the government’s efforts in preparing for the bill, except the democrats Au Kam San and Ng Kuok Cheong who were worried about the possible threats the bill could bring to basic human rights.

Those who supported the legislation said that the enactment would not only fulfill Macau’s constitutional responsibility but also exercise its own right to defend national security given by the Basic Law.

However, some voices in society deemed the 40-day public consultation was too short for such influential law and the government only listened to public opinions in a selective manner.

The pro-democracy lawmakers and Jose Coutinho demanded the law to follow the same standards adopted in the Johannesburg Principles in order to ensure basic human rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press and access to information in the SAR.

They also criticised the bill for giving obscure definition and opportunities for government officials to abuse power.

During the deliberation in the standing committee, most of the lawmakers believed the provisions incriminating sedition and theft of state secrets would not jeopardise human rights and were in line with the protection entitled by the Basic Law.

The New Macau Association handed in proposed amendments to the legislature as well as staged a spontaneous sit-in outside the Legislative Assembly building before the bill was put for the final reading.

The association said it did not oppose the enactment of the legislation, but believed that national security and human rights could co-exist.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International also urged Macau authorities in an open letter to withdraw the anti-subversion bill that they believed would undermine fundamental freedoms. The organisation said the public consultation period was “unreasonably short” and the enactment had to be postponed until the vague concepts were clarified.

Yet, the controversial national security bill was finally passed by winning near-unanimous support at the Legislative Assembly on February 25. Au Kam San and Ng Kuok Cheong voted against a few provisions of the bill, while Jose Coutinho abstained from voting for the “preparatory acts” provision. The national security bill came into effect on March 3.

Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah in a public event said the approval of the National Security Law had filled a long-standing legal vacuum, fulfilled an inevitable constitutional obligation and laid down a solid foundation for Macau’s social stability.

Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda Chan said that the government would strive to strike a balance between defending national security and protecting residents’ basic rights and freedoms.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping arrived in Macau for a two-day visit between January 10 and 11, where he confirmed the central government’s exploitation plan on Hengqin Island in Zhuhai in order to support regional cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.

Before returning to Beijing Xi told Macau people that “where there is difficulty, there is resolution and hope”. He encouraged the Macau government and residents to tackle the impact brought by the global economic downturn together by borrowing a Chinese aphorism that says “We can find a solution before the difficulty arrives, as long as our faith is not being eaten away”.

Entry bans on Hong Kong democrats

A Hong Kong scholar and two pro-democracy politicians were barred from Macau on respectively February 27 and March 3 (the day when the National Security Law was enforced). Johannes Chan Man-mun, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, was denied entry to Macau for the first time when he was on his way to give a speech in an annual legal seminar at the University of Macau. Chan said the immigration officers told him his name was “on a list” and cited the Internal Security Law. The scholar suspected he was refused entry because of his role in the Article 23 Concern Group, which was set up in 2002 to campaign against the Hong Kong government’s plan to enact controversial security legislation. He also expressed concern that the incident would impact on academic freedom and exchange, and the government would abuse its power when citizens’ immigration right was “lacking transparency”.

Meanwhile, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, a lawmaker and member of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (HKADPL), went to Macau by boat on March 3 along with Bruce Liu Sung-lee, a District Council member and chairman of the HKADPL, in an attempt to “test whether they could enter Macau under the enforcement of the National Security Law”.

However, they were turned away immediately after the immigration officers told them their names were shown on the computer system and also cited the Internal Security Law of Macau.

It was their second time to have been turned away from Macau since early this year.

Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah in response to these incidents said he believed police were pursuant to the law and stressed that the anti-subversion law did not play a role.

Secretary for Security Cheong Kuoc Va said the Immigration Services of Macau had the legal power to assess each visitor’s requirements for entry, the same as their counterparts around the world.

However, Secretary General of the Hong Kong Civic Party Kenneth Chan Ka-lok on March 12 successfully entered Macau, despite having “a little bit longer clearance time over the counter”.

Lee Cheuk Yan, one of the barred Hong Kong pan-democracy legislators in an exclusive interview with the MDTimes defended that the democrats were not “troublemakers” in response to casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun’s statement, adding that all they wanted to see was a healthy relationship between the two SARs.

Eventually in the morning of March 15, 35 pan-democracy legislators and activists from Hong Kong made a trip to Macau together hoping they could see a “normalised relationship” between the two territories. However, five of them namely Lee Cheuk Yan, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok Hung, “The Bull” Tsang Kin-shing, Koo Sze-yiu and Lui Yuk-lin were barred which made the group feel “outraged” and hand in a letter of protest at the Macau Government Headquarters to urge the Macau Chief Executive to respect Hong Kong residents’ human rights and resume a normal immigration policy.

CCAC power expansion

The bill to expand the Commission Against Corruption’s (CCAC) power to the private sector was put up for general discussions at the Assembly on March 24. However, the graft buster was given an obstacle by the lawmakers and the first reading had to be postponed to April 2 as concerns were raised about no watchdog would be in place to prevent power abuse within the commission.

The CCAC got the okay in the second meeting on April 2, but the bill was passed just beyond the 50 percent margin necessary on first reading. Of the 27 lawmakers, 15 cast a favourable vote, two opposed the power expansion, whilst 10 abstained from voting. The then Legislative Assembly president Susana Chou said such voting results happened for the first time over the past decade.

On August 4 in the plenary meeting at the legislature, the bill was “surprisingly” passed unanimously within just five minutes on final reading. That means corruption activities occur in all local private entities will be subject to the graft buster’s investigation starting March 1, 2010.

The lawmakers explained that they saw great improvement in the final version of the bill such as having more “precise definition” of the crime.

Third Chief Executive Election

Executive Council member Ho Iat Seng, Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Fernando Chui Sai On and Public Prosecutor-General Ho Chio Meng were the four possible candidates who rumours or speculations said would run for the Third Chief Executive Election.

However, Ho Iat Seng later cleared the rumours and confirmed that he would not run for the election, when he handed in his identification documents to the Chief Executive Electoral Affairs Committee on March 23 to confirm his seat in the 300-member Chief Executive Election Committee.

Other “possible candidates” also did not make any direct comments regarding the matter.

The Official Gazette on May 11 published an executive order that showed the Third Chief Executive would be held on July 26.

The turning point came on May 12, when the then Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Fernando Chui Sai On announced his resignation in order to run for Macau’s top job.

On May 25 Chui’s election agent Vong Hin Fai collected the nomination form from the Election Coordination Centre, and after that Chui gave a press conference to announce his election manifesto. He pledged 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.

The election agent told reporters in the election office on June 1 Chui had already obtained the support from at least 50 Election Committee members to sign his nomination form in order to become an official candidate of the July election as required by law.

Although there were three other citizens including a Chinese medicine practitioner and a casino dealer who went to collect the nomination forms, they failed to get support from any of the 300 members of the Election Committee. On June 16, Chui delivered his nomination form containing 286 Election Committee members’ signatures to the Chief Executive Election Coordination Office, making him the sole candidate for the election.

During the campaign period from July 11 to July 24, Chui attended at least two meetings daily with different social organisations, institutes, industry representatives, professionals, scholars and also chaired open public forums so as to answer questions directly from civilians.

During the second public hearing held on July 21 in Keang Peng Middle School, Chui told the 300 residents he was not a “perfect person” and would treat criticisms as a way to motivate himself.

In the last day of the campaign, Chui vowed that if he was elected the third Chief Executive he would continue to keep close contact with residents via different channels and stressed the importance of listening to public opinions.

Finally on July 26, the election began at 10am at the Macau Dome. The only surprise was probably the fact that some Election Committee members, who had nominated Fernando Chui Sai On in June to become a candidate, changed their mind and decided not to vote for him on that important day.

Chui received 282 votes, representing 94 percent of the 300-member Election Committee to become the successor of Mr Edmund Ho Hau Wah.

Among the 297 Election Committee members who attended the anonymous ballot, Jose Pereira Coutinho showed his disagreement with the “small-circle” electoral system by not dropping his ballot into the box but just sitting in silence during the voting process.

Of the 296 votes gathered, 282 went to Chui while 14 were blank. Media compared the result with that in the 2004 election, where Mr Edmund Ho Hau Wah gained 296 valid votes to stay as the head of Macau for another five years.

At the press conference given straight after the election, Chui insisted that he had obtained a high number of votes and respected entirely the decisions of those members who did not vote for him.

In addition, he said that once after he assumed office, efforts would first be paid to overcome the impact of the global financial crisis, improve transportation and also build a clean and honest government.

According to Eilo Yu Wing Yat, assistant professor of the Department of Government and Public Administration at the University of Macau, Chui’s family background and business profile, if being used properly, could be advantageous in resolving social contradictions. He said that Chui could make good use of his relationship with the business sector to push forward talks in order to resolve a lot of social issues.

The professor also said that breaking down the social contradictions between the labour and business sectors would be the major challenge for the third-term SAR government.

On August 10, the Chinese State Council formally appointed Chui as the third Chief Executive of Macau in a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao. On the next day, Chui made his first trip to Beijing as Chief Executive-elect and met with the Chinese Premier. Premier Wen advised Chui to be well prepared for his term of office in order to overcome all the difficulties and achieve new accomplishments for Macau.

Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Chui on August 12 and expressed the central government’s trust and support to him, saying that “Macau is right now at a fresh historic starting point”. The President also said Chui “shoulders great responsibilities as the new Chief Executive of the Macau SAR”.

Imported Labour Law

The Legislative Assembly’s Third Standing Committee on August 11 requested to extend the term of the legislature by two months to October 15 in order to complete the legislative process of the bill concerning imported labour. The Assembly usually takes the annual summer break from August 16 to October 14.

The committee president Cheang Chi Keong explained that the government only handed in the latest revised version of the bill recently despite the committee meetings were completed months ago.

Hundreds of migrant workers in Macau on October 4 held a prayer vigil at the Friendship Square in an attempt to call for the public and government attention on the deprivation of their rights at workplace. The workers were worried about the levy imposed on employers who hired non-local employees, saying the costs would eventually be transferred to them. The workers also said the provision that restricted them from changing to work for another employer within a six-month period was unfair to them.

The first plenary meeting for final reading of the imported labour bill was held on October 8. However the six-month job restriction proposed by the government stimulated hours of heated debate and no voting on any of the 44 articles was done.

The ban means that if a worker quitted the job when the contract was still valid, to accept a better job offer or for other reasons, he or she would be required to leave Macau for six months and only after that he or she could enter the territory again to work for another company.

In contrast, if the worker was fired, he or she would be free to find a new job immediately without any constraints.

A second meeting was summoned on the next day where the bill was passed eventually. Although lawmakers were quick to criticise the government for some of the articles in the proposed bill, Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen said the government was flexible enough and would consider lifting the levy on some sectors such as that for locals wanting to hire domestic helpers. The law will come into effect on March 26, 2010.

Susana Chou left Macau’s political scene

The then president of the Legislative Assembly, Susana Chou, retired from Macau’s political scene after the third-term of the Assembly ended on August 15 (although the term was extended for two months for the discussions on the imported labour bill). Yet, she continued to be a member of the Standing Committee of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

In a meeting with the media to conclude her 10 years’ experience as the Assembly’s president, Chou revealed that after leaving the legislature she would start working voluntarily as the president of “Tong Jai Charitable Association” which she set up three years ago with all the salaries she earned from the Assembly.

Chou, at 67 years old, blamed the SAR government for not communicating with the legislature sufficiently regarding a lot of policies and decisions since the 1999 handover, adding in some aspects there was even no prior notification.

She also said the Assembly had “no idea at all” about the government’s legislative plan which made the Assembly always in a “passive state”.

Meanwhile, Chou deemed that more than five top-level secretaries would be needed in the next government, as the current work assigned to them already exceeded their capacities which gave them no spare time to pursue further studies and upgrade themselves.

After leaving the Assembly, Chou started to share her thoughts online. She said on her blog that some existing government officials choose to turn a deaf ear to public opinions and “see criticisms as attacks”, and therefore officials who don’t make flattering remarks “will not be given important jobs”.

Despite the former legislature head recognised the achievements over the past decade under the leadership of Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah and agreed that “a majority of the government officials are law-abiding, working actively and striving to serve the people”, she pointed out that there was still a group of officials who were “unambitious, not close to public opinions, and unaware of what an official should do.

In addition, in the November 28 article she criticised Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda Chan for having said that “the Macau law is not lagging behind”, adding her “biggest regret” as the legislature president was that she wasn’t able to improve “the obsolete situation of the Macau law” based on the social development and demands within her term of office.

Fourth Legislative Elections

A Chief Executive Administration Order gazetted on March 16 set the 4th Direct Legislative Assembly Election on September 20.

The Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC), comprising five members – Fong Man Chong (president), Raymond Tam Vai Man, Jose Chu, Lau Ioc Ip and Ho Wai Heng – swore in at the government headquarters on March 19 as administered by the Chief Executive. Fong said he believed that with Macau people’s capabilities and wisdom, this year’s election would be “a better one”.

The United Citizens Association of Macau (ACUM) led by Chan Meng Kam and Ung Choi Kun was the first association to deliver the candidates list and platform on June 15 in order to be qualified to compete for the 12 directly elected seats at the legislature.

After the deadline closed on July 13, it was confirmed that a total of 123 candidates from 16 lists had signed up to compete in the head-on race, including both old and new faces.

The lists were, from number 1 to 16, Guangdong Macau Alliance (first candidate Mak Soi Kun); New Hope (Jose Coutinho); United Development Alliance (Lai Cho Wai); Prosperous Democratic Macao Association (Ng Kuok Cheong); Reform and Innovation Alliance (Melinda Chan Mei Yi); Civil Watch (Agnes Lam Iok Fong); The United Citizens Association of Macau (Chan Meng Kam); Social Justice (Yuen Kam Seng); Democracy Act-Up (Ng Sek Io); New Alliance for the Development of Macau (Angela Leong On Kei); Social Democrats Front (Lei Man Chao); Union for Development (Kwan Tsui Hang); Union for Promoting Progress (Ho Ion Sang); Plural Voices of Macau – We all Belong (Casimiro Pinto); New Democratic Macao Association (Au Kam San); as well as the Association for Supporting the Community and Engagement with People (Paul Pun Chi Meng).

Although the official campaign period only began on September 5, as early as mid-August the Electoral Affairs Commission had already issued five warnings and received more than 15 complaints concerning campaign activities which were launched by some lists before they were allowed to do so.

Meanwhile, Assistant Anti-Corruption Commissioner Chan Seak Ho said the CCAC received some complaints which accused certain organisations of bribing voters in the forms of buying dinners, giving away gift coupons or travelling abroad.

On the other hand, just around 10 days before the direct legislative election was held, Orieta Lau Ioc Ip, the director of the Financial Services Bureau (DSF) and one of the EAC members, quit the EAC and later the DSF as well. The move came after an audit report revealed that the Motor Vehicle Valuation Committee, whose president was Lau and under the management of DSF, to have exploited up to 3.4 million patacas of public funds by convening significantly excessive number of meetings.

The CCAC in the meantime said nearly 160 complaints regarding the election campaign were received by far, and a majority of them were about irregular propaganda approaches such as putting up campaign posters on forbidden places or having involved in commercial activities.

However, the commission also said that when comparing to the last legislative election in 2005, a notable decrease in the number of complaints were reported.

In addition, Fong Man Chong said on September 16 that the EAC had received eight complaints from candidates against two local newspapers in relation to unfair coverage. He also confirmed that one of the newspapers involved was “Macao Daily News” or commonly known as “Ou Mun”.

Ng Seng Fong, the fourth candidate of the Democratic New Macao Association (ANMD) led by Au Kam San, announced four days before the election that she would withdraw from the Sunday race, after being revealed that she had been sentenced to 39 months in jail on fraud and document forgery charges in July. Au said the election law did not forbid candidates with criminal responsibility from running in the election, and also denied having prior knowledge of the incident.

On the big day September 20, 28 polling stations were open from 9am to 9pm and 149,000 ballots were received at the end of the election. The EAC originally predicted that an initial result would be out by midnight, but until 3am staff were still counting the votes due to technical and human errors but made a lot of reporters from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau dissatisfied.

The EAC president attributed the major delays to computer failure and human errors in six of the polling stations, which had to repeatedly count the number of votes inside the polling boxes as “staff might forget to press ‘enter’ in the computers before giving voters the ballot papers”.

As well, computer breakdown was reported in the early period of the election in four polling stations.

On September 21, the EAC said that the announcement of the election results had to be postponed because of the ongoing analysis of the 6,539 invalid votes reported in the polling stations.

The number was double that in 2005 where only 3,272 votes were deemed invalid.

In most of the invalid votes, voters were found to have stamped outside of the box next to the list which they supported.

Finally at 11pm on September 22, the General Accounting Committee (AAG) gave a press conference and officially announced the results after 50 hours of wait.

The 12 candidates who won a directly elected seat were Kwan Tsui Hang (who got the highest number of votes of 22,101), Chan Meng Kam (17,775), Ng Kuok Cheong (16,907), Ho Ion San (15,033), Angela Leong On Kei (14,541), Jose Pereira Coutinho (13,159), Au Kam San (11,303), Lee Chong Cheng (11,050.5), Mak Soi Kun (10,827), Ung Choi Kun (8,887.5), Chan Wai Chi (8,453.5) and Melinda Chan Mei Yi (8,191).

However, the AAG also announced that after an evaluation, only 1,072 votes were invalid, 711 were blank and 147,223 were valid.

The AAG president explained that 83 percent of the original “invalid votes” were in fact valid because they were able to show the voting intentions after having been verified based on “unified standards” over the past two days.

What caught Macau by surprise was the unanimous verdict by the Court of Final Appeal on September 28 that overthrew the AAG’s decision and ruled that only 41 of those 6,539 votes could be turned valid based on the Legislative Election Law.

The court also rescinded the supplementary provisions to the invalid ballot standards set by the AAG, which the court deemed were contradictory to the election law.

Yet, the same 12 candidates were elected, despite the numbers of votes each of them got were different from those announced by the AAG earlier.

The then Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah said the SAR government “fully respected” the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling on the legislative election results, adding that it gave a “complete full stop to the whole legislative election”.

On the other hand, on October 5 Edmund Ho Hau Wah issued an administrative order which officially appointed Ho Sio Kam, Tsui Wai Kwan, Tong Io Cheng, Jose Chui Sai Peng, Vong Hin Fai, Lau Veng Seng and Sio Chi Wai as lawmakers in the fourth term of the Legislative Assembly.

On October 16, the second day when the Assembly commenced a new four-year term, Lau Cheok Va was elected by 23 out of 29 votes as the president succeeding Susana Chou, while Ho Iat Seng became the vice president of the legislature. Ho afterwards resigned from the Executive Council as he said he wanted to focus on the legislative work.

“Cooling-off period” for ex-officials

On December 14, the bill to restrict the Chief Executive and key officials from working in private business after leaving the government finally entered discussions at the Legislative Assembly. The government once again requested to approve the bill under an emergency procedure and therefore the bill was passed for final reading on the same day.

According to the bill, departing Chief Executive and key officials are not allowed to work in private business at all for one year immediately after their duties are being terminated in the government.

However, the former Chief Executive can start doing so in the second and third years only after an approval is obtained from the incumbent Chief Executive. That means he will only be completely free to choose a job starting from the fourth year after leaving the government.

As for former principal officials, they can apply to get the same work approval from the Chief Executive as early as in the second year. And starting from the third year, all the job restrictions applied on them will be lifted.

Members of Chui’s government

On November 24 the then 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 Audit Commissioner Fatima Choi Mei Lei, who had repeatedly revealed misuse of public funds by officials including the 2005 East Asian Games, was the only key officials who could not stay on the post.

Graft-buster Cheong U was nominated to be the 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 in November, was to succeed Cheong U to lead the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC).

In addition, chief of the Chief Executive’s Office, Ho Veng On, had been appointed the Audit Commissioner, meaning Fatima Choi Mei Lei would 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.

Despite having been asked repeatedly by reporters, Mr Chui did not give a precise explanation regarding the change in the post of Audit Commissioner.

The then Audit Commissioner Fatima Choi Mei Lei told reporters later the thing that she regretted most during her 10-year term of office was the Legislative Assembly’s inadequate support for audit work and failed to make use of the findings to better supervise the government.

On December 1, Mr Chui announced the 10-member list of the Executive Council for his government. The members are Florinda Chan, Secretary for Administration and Justice; Leong Heng Teng, former lawmaker and social service worker; Liu Chak Wan, businessman; Ma Iao Lai, businessman; Leonel Alberto Alves, lawmaker and lawyer; Cheang Chi Keong, lawmaker; Leong Vai Tac, businessman; Chan Meng Kam, lawmaker and businessman; Ho Sut Heng, president of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM); and Wong Yue Kai, architect.

Incumbent directly elected lawmaker Chan Meng Kam, as well as Ho Sut Heng and Wong Yue Kai, who is also the vice-president of the Macao Association of Building Contractors and Developers, were the first time to be in the Executive Council.

Macau’s 10th anniversary

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 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.

President Hu arrived in Macau on December 19 and afterwards chaired the opening ceremony of the Science Centre, visited a local family in Taipa and also an incineration centre to learn about the processing of Macau’s household waste.

During the welcome dinner hosted by the SAR government, the President announced that the central government had decided to send a pair of giant pandas upon Macau’s request to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Mr Chui later said that the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau had suggested building a panda theme park in Seac Pai Van, Coloane.

On December 20, the inauguration of the principal officials of the new SAR government was held at the Macau Dome. Mr Chui swore in as the third Chief Executive of the Macau SAR administered by President Hu.

Reviewing the decade of experience of Macau, the President highlighted five main points which he said 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 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 President 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.

He also 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.

According to director of the Chinese Liaison Office in Macau, Bai Zhijian, who summarized the Chinese delegation’s Macau trip, 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 (whose three generations all worked in the teaching profession) and the Hengqin campus’ groundbreaking ceremony showed that he paid “high attention to education and training of talents”.

Meanwhile, the New Macau Association staged a protest in the afternoon which attracted around 1,000 people and also handed in a petition letter to the government.

The protest was calling for “anti-corruption, fighting for democracy and protecting people’s livelihood”.

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