Honorable Mention | Lionel Leong The gaming boss 2.0

boss2Lionel Leong Vai Tac groomed for years like a ‘prince’ under the guidance of Edmund Ho is on the right path to becoming part of the new generation of leaders – even to the very top when the time comes.
Recently appointed Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Leong takes over from Francis Tam and in a year of retraction after mind-boggling growth, the supervision of the gaming industry. His mission, in one word, is… diversify, diversify, diversify. Relaxation of labor importation and turning SMEs viable and stronger are other tasks at hand. Can he do it?
Leong has shown to be resilient and focused. He won the first ‘battle’: get-
ting the job. It shows he beat all the competition to get the second most relevant political position in the gambling capital of the world. Moreover, it will fall on him to negotiate with the six incumbent Macau gaming concessionaires when their current licenses expire at various times between 2020 and 2022.
In his nomination speech, Leong showed preparedness for the political battlefield, handling questions on all sensitive topics in a direct, clear and pragmatic manner. He’s well aware that Macau’s economy cannot be so dependent on one industry, and he judiciously takes the hints directly from the mainland. A successful businessman, Leong has been extensively visiting mainland China over the past few years making and keeping connections at the highest level.
Mr Leong is a member of the territory’s Executive Council and an elected member to the National People’s Congress, but, like his predecessor, he is the only in the new government that hasn’t made a career in public service which may get in his way at the start, but his liberal, business-oriented mindset may just be the advantage he needs to overcome any bureaucratic hurdles.  A pragmatist, Leong’s view is that “Politics is the art of compromise. In Macau, in particular, I would say unequivocally that compromise is a practical necessity,” he once told Macao Magazine.
Looking back at his life and career, Lionel Leong means business.
In 2003 when Macau’s economy was re-shaping itself to become the world’s gaming capital, Mr Leong owned a lucrative garment factory in Coloane. In its heyday, it employed over a thousand workers producing high-end jeans for famous brands.
Leong knew soon enough that he had to “adapt or die”. At the beginning of 2009, he shifted focus to start a large industrial laundry to serve the major casino hotels in Macau. His state-of-the-art linen laundry operation in Coloane equipped with German technology and 200 workers (50% migrant labor) is now the largest in the world.
Upon appointment as Secretary for Economy and Finance, he relinquished interest in these companies.

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