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|August 30th, 2004, 04:25 AM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2002
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Second term handed to Macau chief Edmund Ho
MACAU - Macau's incumbent leader Edmund Ho easily won a second and final five-year term yesterday after running unopposed in this gambling enclave.
Unlike his widely despised Hong Kong counterpart, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, Chief Executive Edmund Ho is popular in Macau after guiding an economic boom in this former Portuguese colony by opening its key gambling industry to competition and allowing Las Vegas casino operators to move in.
Gang violence also dropped significantly under his watch.
On Sunday, Mr Ho won 296 votes from an elite 300-member committee comprising business leaders and other top local figures. Three members abstained from the vote while one member was absent.
Mr Ho was Macau's first leader when it came under Chinese rule in December 1999 with guarantees of keeping its Western-style civil liberties for at least 50 years - the same conditions attached to former British colony Hong Kong's handover to Beijing seven years ago.
He is barred from a third term.
On Sunday, Mr Ho, 49, pledged to preserve Macau's autonomy and continue its growth, ensuring that 'most people in society can enjoy the fruits of our success'.
But he also warned about Macau's singular focus on gambling and its sensitivity to global economic fluctuations, urging people to maintain 'a high degree of crisis awareness'.
Local leaders said Mr Ho's selection was a foregone conclusion.
'There has never been any question that Edmund Ho would be chief executive of Macau into a second term, probably from the day he was selected for his first,' said Mr Au Kam Sam, one of just two Macau legislators to have ever challenged party policy since Mr Ho's ascendancy.
'It would be difficult for anyone to replace him anyway because the people here love him.'
Electoral college voter and the city's leading tycoon, casino boss Stanley Ho, welcomed the chief executive's re-selection.
'I think everyone in Macau should be very happy with the news,' the tycoon told Hong Kong's RTHK radio.
'In fact he has promised that he will ask everyone to unite and and help each other and take the opportunity now to develop Macau even better.'
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