Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said Tuesday he was “very optimistic” that the issue of longer opening hours for the Macau-Zhuhai border checkpoints will be resolved soon, adding he hopes that the opening hours of the Barrier Gate and Hengqin checkpoints will be the first to be extended still during his outgoing first term.
Currently, the Barrier Gate checkpoint is closed between midnight and 7 a.m., while the Lotus Flower Bridge checkpoint between Cotai and Hengqin only operates between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Locals and tourists alike are complaining about massive crow issues affecting the Barrier Gate checkpoint.
Chui said he hoped the opening hours at the Barrier Gate and Hengqin checkpoints will be extended before his first five-year term as chief executive ends at midnight on December 19. His second term will begin on the following day.
However, Chui did not mention the feasibility of 24/7 border checkpoint opening hours – an arrangement that has been in place between Hong Kong and Shenzhen for some time. Neither did he say for how many hours the checkpoints’ opening hours would be extended.
Chui made the remarks during a media briefing at the Office of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) in Beijing Tuesday.
The re-elected chief executive, who was officially appointed by the central government in Beijing to his second term on Monday, also said that he would speak to local gaming operators about providing their own transport for their non-local workers to ease pressure on public transport and the Macau-Zhuhai border checkpoints.
Chui also said his next government would have to work harder to tackle deep-seated problems that are constraining Macau’s development, such as land resources, the supply of skilled workers, and how to diversify the economy through regional co-operation.
Chui added that the government would also need to tackle the pressure that rapid development has put on housing and transport.
Chui also said that these were issues that the new government would need to solve step-by-step, pointing out that after he returns to Macau today, he would begin work on forming a new policy team to propose to Beijing for approval.
Macau’s principal officials are appointed by the central government.
After that, he said he would be ready to start planning for the next five years, based on his campaign platform titled “Common Aspirations for the Future, Shared Prosperity”.
Asked by the media whether his current team of principal officials will remain in their positions in the new government, Chui said, “What is certain for now is that I have the opportunity to serve five more years.”
He also said that it was not appropriate to say anything about the matter for the time being, insisting that he had “not spoken to anyone about the matter” of forming a new team of top officials.
In response to a question about who he has in mind as his future top officials, Chui said, “How can I open my heart to you?”
Informed sources have said that at least two of Chui’s five policy secretaries will leave their posts later this year: Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda Chan Lai Man and Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen.
Alexis Tam Chon Weng, who heads Chui’s office, is widely rumoured to become a policy secretary or commissioner in the new government line-up.
After having received his certificate of appointment from Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, Chui now needs to propose to the central government the principal officials of his second-term team. The principal officials’ appointments by the central government are expected to be formalised by December 20.
President Xi Jinping said in a meeting with Chui on Monday that Macau needs to make a correct assessment of its situation, plan well to respond to internal and external changes and better prepare itself for any adversities.
Asked by the media how his new government would handle rising civil discontent, Chui said that “the government will surely listen” when faced with different opinions from civil society, provided that they are reasonable.
He added that if necessary he would provide more explanations about the government’s work if citizens have doubts about it. Chui also said that the new government would intensify its communication with the public through different channels to explain its policies and maintain a constant dialogue.
Chui pointed out that it is normal for young people to be critical and express their opinions. He also said he hoped that young people will learn to communicate and have a dialogue with others in order to give suggestions to solve social issues and make improvements for the city.
He also said that different ways have been used to express different opinions in the past five years and since most of them have been law-abiding and reasonable, he believed that Macau is still a “harmonious society”.
Besides receiving his certificate of appointment and separate meetings with the premier and president, Chui also had a meeting with officials of the MSAR Office in Beijing where he green-lighted an exhibition on Macau’s achievements in the 15 years since the return to the Motherland. The 15th anniversary coincides with the start of Chui’s second term.(macaunews/macaupost)