Gambling hub Macau chooses Beijing-backed Ho Iat Seng as leader

Mr Ho Iat Seng has been a deputy of China's National People's Congress (NPC) and a member of the NPC Standing Committee.
Mr Ho Iat Seng has been a deputy of China's National People's Congress (NPC) and a member of the NPC Standing Committee.PHOTO: REUTERS

MACAU (REUTERS, XINHUA) - The Chinese territory of Macau elected former legislature head Ho Iat Seng as its leader on Sunday (Aug 25) – the sole approved candidate.

Mr Ho, who has deep ties to China, is expected to cement Beijing’s control over the special administrative region and distance it from protests in neighbouring Hong Kong.

He secured 392 votes from a 400-member pro-Beijing committee to lead the world’s largest gambling hub for at least the next five years, public broadcaster TDM reported.

The 62-year-old’s highly scripted appointment comes as the former Portuguese colony tries to position itself as a beacon of stability and model for the Chinese government’s “one country, two systems” framework, through which Beijing administers Macau and Hong Kong.

Although anti-government protests have roiled the former British colony of Hong Kong for nearly three months, Macau has seen little dissent to Beijing’s rule.

Mr Ho said local young people could resist the influence of Hong Kong’s protesters and support measures to boost patriotism in Macau.

Born in Macau in 1957, Mr Ho comes from a well-off local business family.

From 2004 to 2009, Mr Ho served as a member of the Executive Council of Macau. In October 2013, he was elected president of the Legislative Assembly of Macau and was re-elected in October 2017.

Mr Ho has been a deputy of China's National People's Congress (NPC) and a member of the NPC Standing Committee.

In April this year, Mr Ho announced his decision to run for the election and submitted his resignation to the NPC Standing Committee, which then accepted his resignation.

Mr Ho was accepted as candidate for the fifth-term chief executive of Macau in July by the region's chief executive election management committee.

He was the only person who submitted a proposed bulletin before the deadline of July 25, making him the sole candidate.