Our Desk | It is the Ministers, not the Ruler

Renato Marques

World history has taught us that on many occasions, I would even risk saying on most occasions, governments rise or fall not because of the ruler and primary leader but because of the lack of performance, poor attitude or misconduct of the ministers, the second level of governance who are, or should be, extensions of the ruler.

In fact, from ancient Europe to Asia we can find countless tales of countries, nations, empires, kingdoms and so on, which were defeated not because of the main foundations of their government, established by the ruler’s policies, but by the way the second level of governance understood and fulfilled (or failed to fulfil) those ideas and visions.

Either through a lack of knowledge, skills, competence or honesty, the world has seen government structures that seem to be resilient to any war, fall like a house of cards when ministers underperform in what is always felt like a severe hit to the ruler’s backbone.

All this to say that Macau, or at least the part of Macau that matters, elected a new ruler just last week. Ho Iat Seng will become the third Chief Executive (CE) of the SAR, succeeding Edmund Ho and Chui Sai On.

Running unopposed for the post, it’s easy to speculate that winning the bid was an “easy task” for Ho. In reality, we do not know if it was that easy or not. Aside from the part that we are allowed to attend, there are many deals going on and negotiations to be made on the backstage.

I do not intend to say this with any critical tone; it is just looking at the facts the way they are, without pursuing any populism or utopian ideas.

Now, and for the upcoming months, until the new government team take their seats at Praia Grande Palace, Ho and his office have to perform what is, for me, the hardest task in the establishment of a new government.

Who to choose? For which role? And why this person and not another? These are questions that should not be answered lightly and should aim to serve the best purpose.

Failing to correctly choose the ministers (the government Secretaries in Macau’s case) is a very significant step in failing as a ruler (as a CE). This is particularly important here as, contrary to other types of government elsewhere, we do not have any traditions of replacing secretaries, or even department heads, in the middle of a term.

What I am trying to say is that five years on the right path can be enough to foster small changes and to begin to see some good but five years on the wrong path can be disastrous, not just for the government but for the entire population.

For the people, a new government is always a new sign of hope; hope that things that were not done before can be done now; hope that wrongs can be corrected; and hope that old ambitions can finally be pursued.

After all, even if people here are not called to elect a new government, they still have the same wishes of those elsewhere who are: wishes of improvement, of development and enhancement in their quality of life. That is always the challenge of any government, democratically elected or not, to fulfill the expectations of people from all walks of life.

Categories Opinion