Ho Iat Seng ‘actively’ considers Macau Chief Executive bid

Macau Legislative Assembly (AL) President Ho Iat Seng said he was “actively” considering running in the chief executive election later this year.

Ho, a businessman and veteran lawmaker and community leader, also said he was “not afraid” of entering the “hot kitchen” – generally understood to refer to the perceived pressure associated with working in a senior government position.

The current five-year term of Chief Executive Chui Sai On, who was re-elected in 2014, will end on December 19, 2019. According to Article 48 of the Macau Basic Law, the chief executive “may serve for not more than two consecutive terms.”

Ho made the remarks while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the legislature’s Chinese New Year media luncheon.

Ho, an indirectly-elected lawmaker representing the city’s business sector, is the sole Macau member of the elite Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

Back in 2016, Ho told reporters that he would not run in the chief executive election in 2019. He said at that time that he would not be a suitable candidate for chief executive, adding that “my age does not allow me” to run for the city’s top job.

Ho, 61 now, said in 2016 that “my peers have already retired. Why would I want to put myself in a tough job?”

When asked by reporters in March 2018 whether he wanted to run for chief executive, Ho said that he did “not know yet”. When asked by the media the same question in September last year, Ho said that he would not answer any questions as to whether he would run in the chief executive election in 2019.

According to Macau Post Daily today when asked by a reporter Wednesday about his possible intention to run for the city’s top job Ho replied that he was “actively considering” the possibility.

The same reporter went on to ask Ho whether he was likely to run for chief executive as his reply Wednesday was much more specific on the matter than in the past, Ho was quick to add, “I am actively and prudently considering [the matter]”.

Ho also said that he had not yet discussed with the central government his possible intention to throw his hat into the ring

Reporters also asked Ho what reforms he would plan for local governance if elected Macau’s next chief executive Ho said that the new government should first review the governance under the previous chief executive terms, and then continue implementing the existing good polices and measures and reform the ones that are “not good”.

Ho said that improvements in matters concerning residents’ livelihoods should be the first priority for the new government, adding that measures to promote clean governance would also need to be improved.

When asked how many prominent community leaders were backing his possible chief executive election bid, Ho said that he had not contacted anyone about the matter.

When asked whether he was willing to enter the “hot kitchen” of top-level politics, Ho replied that “the legislature is also [a] hot [kitchen] where I have already been working for more than nine years. I have been living for 60 years during which I have experienced both hot and cold things.”

“If you are afraid of entering the hot kitchen, it means that you do not have the sense of shouldering responsibilities,” Ho said, adding that “if you have reached a certain stage of your life and civil society believes that you are able to take up this position, then you just simply choose to take up [this position].

“Whether one can stand the heat in the kitchen depends on whether he or she knows how to cook,” Ho said.

According with the Macau Daily Post Ho also said that one of the factors he was taking into consideration when deciding whether to run for the city’s top job was whether civil society would accept the situation or not. “If everyone thinks that I am not suitable for the position, why would I go ahead with running for the job? That’s why I need to prudently consider [the matter],” Ho said.

Ho went on to say it was not the case that he must compete for a “particular position”.

Ho was first elected as an NPC Standing Committee member in the fourth session of the 9th National People´s Congress (NPC) in 2001. He has been an NPC Standing Committee member ever since.

Ho was first elected as an indirectly-elected legislator representing Macau’s business sector in 2009 and served as vice-president of the legislature in 2009-2013. He was re-elected as an indirectly-elected lawmaker in 2013 and was elected by his peers in the legislative hemicycle as the president of the legislature for the 2013-2017 term. He was re-elected as an indirectly-elected lawmaker and re-elected as the legislature’s president in 2017.

Ho was a member of the Executive Council – the local government’s top advisory body – from 2004 to 2009.

According to the official election schedule, Macau’s next chief executive is slated to be elected by a 400-member committee in the second half of August at the earliest.

Observers have speculated that in addition to Ho, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac could also throw his hat into the ring.(end)

Photo by Tony Wong /Macau Post Daily

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