Already speeding toward the double 20 – December 20th marks two decades as a Special Administrative Region – Macau is facing additional responsibilities as the ´good pupil` of the “One country, Two systems” principle. The top Chinese leadership is not avoiding the elephant in the room played by the sister SAR of Hong Kong, quite the contrary. At the same time as warning Hong Kong to behave according to the constitutional line, they are officially praising Macau for the correct implementation of the Basic Law. Before addressing the red lines apparently drawn from the PRC Constitution, we may highlight that the MSAR success story rests on the patriotism of its leadership and principal officials, and on the implementation of national security related legal tools.
Albeit the attention of MSAR should be on the preparations of the paramount event on December 20th, for all state and political reasons Macau could have a break to evaluate the new government of Chief Executive-to-be on the 20th. The fact is that whilst disregarding the local conventional wisdom of no surprises ever, Ho Iat Seng’s team proved to have two jacks in the box.
The very CE, always reserved on political and institutional matters, admitted, and the choice of words says everything, that it was “difficult” for him to make the “decision” to appoint the vice-president of the Executive Council of Municipal Affairs Bureau as his Secretary for Finance and Economy, and the director of Identification Bureau as the new Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, sidelining seasoned and deep-rooted MSAR cadres like Lionel Leong and Ho Veng On.
Although both, and other officials, will find new positions (Ho Veng On will keep the Commissioner of Audit) – for Macau has not an excessive talent pool – the point is the option for the two replacements seems to make sense in the turning of the page on the offices of Edmund Ho and Chui Sai On. If we put aside Raimundo do Rosário, the Secretary for Transportation and Public Works, himself allegedly warming the seat for Caifeng Li, the four, including Wong Sio Chak, share an aura of the class of 90 called to the political front line in the times of adherence to central government policies.
To address this reasoning we just have to reflect on the justifications and comparative qualities the “difficult” decision brought: Ao Ieong U, director of the Identification Bureau, has done an “excellent job” and service. In addition, her portfolio, or the Alexis Tam mega-brief, is the most demanding in terms of a service mindset. Politically, this assessment is equivalent to an interrogation.
However, most intriguing and hard to swallow are the said benefits of the discreet Municipal Affairs Bureau´s Lei Wai Nong which Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng sought for the next Secretary for Economy and Finance: he understands SME problems.
Politically, this assessment of the Secretary who will handle the gaming industry, and others, is equivalent to a What Am I Doing Here. So much so that the usually cautious SJM Ambrose So, allowed himself to say he is “uncertain” of what Lei Wai Nong intends for the casino sector. More than this, the SJM Holdings CEO added that it is too “early” to say anything about what Nong’s “difficult” appointment would mean for the future of gaming. 2022 is almost tomorrow.
Finally, the high-profile new Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong: Not only he is climbing from the role of the Commissioner for Corruption to the Executive, but he will probably be the future Chief Executive of a SAR more integrated into the GBA. Meanwhile, Cheong´s deputy at the anti-graft bureau will be moved to be the Chief-of-Office of the Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng’s office.
A final note to the wandering cow that escaped from the slaughterhouse and alarmed the Ilha Verde area. The cow will be adopted by the Municipal Bureau. Locals are betting on a name appropriate to the four-footed. Macau Daily Times knows that MaCow is the favorite.