Chief executive candidate Ho Iat Seng declined on Thursday to comment on the government’s proposal to increase paid maternity leave from 56 to 70 days, even though he acknowledged that the proposal remains below the expectations of the Macau Women’s General Association (commonly known as Fu Luen), which had requested that the statutory paid maternity leave in the private sector be raised to 90 days – as in the public sector.
Ho made the remarks during a visit to the association’s Integrated Services Building in Rua da Barca. The former president of the Legislative Assembly (AL) pointed out that the paid maternity leave period is currently being discussed by a standing committee of the legislature and that he needed to respect the position of the current government on the issue. Lawmakers passed the outline of the bill in a plenary session last month. After its committee-level discussion and revision, lawmakers will vote on the bill article-by-article in its second reading during a plenary session after the current summer recess.
When asked by reporters who covered his visit about the issue, Ho declined to comment, pointing out that as chief executive candidate it would “not be appropriate” for him to comment on the matter as he ought to respect the view of the current government on the matter as it has already proposed the bill and submitted it to the legislature.
On the other hand, Ho also said that his election campaign visits to a string of private social service organisations had enabled him to know more about their activities. He said that the visits were a “lesson” for him, namely because he had seldom visited these kinds of organisations in the past.
The Integrated Services Building in the San Kio neighbourhood houses various service centres, such as for family services, young people services and senior citizens services.
During the visit, Ho and his election campaign team members were briefed by the association’s board members, including its president Lam Un Mui and vice-president-cum-lawmaker Wong Kit Cheng, about the operations of the various service centres in the building, where Ho also chatted with users of the various services.
Pupils and students talked with Ho about study and employment issues, senior citizens talked with him about the government’s health voucher scheme and parents asked Ho about the city’s statutory paid maternity leave.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the visit, Ho said that he had rarely visited social service organisations and their various service centres in the city before he launched his election campaign. Ho said that his visits to various social service centres over the past few weeks had provided him with a “lesson” enabling him to gain a better understanding of the various social services provided in different neighbourhoods. Ho said that the visits had also enabled him to know about the still insufficient social services in the city.
Ho said that while his campaign platform could not be changed after his recent visits to a string of social service organisations, he would use the understanding that he gained from the visits as reference for his policy planning every year after taking office as chief executive.
Ho is generally expected to be elected Macau’s next chief executive by a large majority of a 400-member election committee at the Macau East Asian Games Dome on Sunday morning. He is slated to be sworn in as Macau’s third chief executive – and fifth-term chief executive – on December 20. Edmund Ho Hau Wah was the first chief executive of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) between 1999 and 2009. He was succeeded by Fernando Chui Sai On, whose term ends at midnight on December 19. Each chief executive can serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Ho also said that Thursday’s visit was “the happiest one” for him as he saw many children in the Integrated Services Building.
Ho’s two-week-long election campaign ends tonight. No campaigning is allowed tomorrow, the day before the election. He is scheduled to give a press conference about the election on Sunday afternoon.