Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac appeared to suggest on Tuesday that he won’t run for chief executive when he said he would remain steadfast in carrying out his duties throughout the remaining term of the current government, when asked by the media whether he intended to join the chief executive election later this year.
The policy secretary also said that Legislative Assembly (AL) President Ho Iat Seng – his potential rival – was well qualified for the city’s highest post.
Meanwhile, Ho told reporters that he would formally announce his chief executive candidacy around May 20.
The chief executive election by a 400-member committee is slated to take place in August.
Ho’s intention to run for the city’s top job emerged earlier this year, when he told reporters on February 13 that he was “actively and prudently” considering running for chief executive. Ho announced on April 18 that he had “provisionally” decided to run in the chief executive election.
Both separately spoke to reporters after attending a reception celebrating today’s International Workers’ Day hosted by the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (commonly known as Gung Luen) in Zape.
Leong’s remarks appeared to indicate that will not run in this year’s chief executive election as any principal official, according to the Chief Executive Election Law, is required to resign from his or her post before being able to formalise his or her candidature for Macau’s top post. Leong previously seemed to hint that he was interested in running for the post of chief executive.
When asked by the media on February 14 about his possible intention to make run for chief executive, Leong said that he needed to listen to opinions raised in civil society and also to “comprehensively” consider the possibility.
When asked by reporters on Tuesday about his possible run in the chief executive election, Leong noted that during the “two sessions” (“liang hui”) – the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) – in March, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council Director Zhang Xiaoming laid out four criteria for Macau’s chief executive: loving the country and Macau, being trusted by the central government, having the ability to govern, and being recognised by Macau society.
Leong went on to say that he “very much” agrees that Ho meets the four criteria.
Leong also said that he was “very” confident that “Macau will surely elect a chief executive that various segments of civil society are satisfied with”.
Leong went on to say that he would remain steadfast in fulfilling his duties in his current post throughout the remaining period of the government of the Macau Special Administrate Region (MSAR) and do his utmost to carry out his current tasks, particularly by creating “favourable” conditions for the transition to the next government.
The current government’s five-year term ends at midnight on December 19.
Macau’s third chief executive will be sworn in on December 20. President Xi Jinping is widely expected to preside over the swearing-in ceremony.
According to the Chief Executive Election Law, the government’s principal officials are barred from running for chief executive, unless they have resigned from their post before the commencement of the nomination process for chief executive candidates.
According to Article 50 of the Macau Basic Law, Macau’s principal officials comprise the government’s policy secretaries, anti-graft commissioner, audit commissioner, head of the Unitary Police Service (SPU) and chief of the Macau Customs Service. The Macau government currently has five policy secretaries.
Further asked by the media, Leong appeared to implicitly confirm his decision not to run for the city’s top job by saying that “the Chief Executive Election Law stipulates the requirements for anyone to be eligible to become a chief executive candidate”
Meanwhile, when asked by reporters yesterday about his upcoming election campaign, Ho, who will be 62 in June, said that he is forming an election campaign team and that his campaign office was being set up. Ho also said that he would “soon” formally announce his run in the chief executive election – around May 20.
The NPC Standing Committee in Beijing passed a decision last Tuesday to approve Ho’s request to resign from the nation’s top legislature, which clears the way for Ho’s bid for Macau’s chief executive.
Ho, a widely respected businessman and community leader, was first elected as an NPC Standing Committee member in the fourth session of the 9th NPC in 2001. He had been an NPC Standing Committee member ever since – the only one from Macau – until April 23 – when his resignation request was approved by the NPC Standing Committee.
According to the Chief Executive Election Law, any member of the 400-member Chief Executive Election Committee – of which the 12 local NPC deputies are ex officio members – is barred from being a chief executive candidate.
(The Macau Post Daily/Tony Wong)