Former Macau Legislative Assembly President Ho Iat Seng Set to Become Next Enclave Chief Executive

Posted on: July 24, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2019, 03:39h.

Macau will need a new chief executive come December, and former Legislative Assembly president Ho Iat Seng is the frontrunner to replace Fernando Chui and lead the enclave through its 2022 casino licensing process.

Macau chief executive casino license
Ho Iat Seng is set to become the most powerful person in the world’s richest gaming hub: Macau. (Image: Macau Business)

The Basic Law of Macau mandates that chief executives are limited to serve a maximum of two five-year terms. Chui’s second term expires in December.

Candidates for the position must obtain nominations from representatives of the 400-person Election Committee. Applicants must gain a minimum of 66 supporters for consideration. Seng has far exceeded the requirement, as the 62-year-old submitted this week his candidacy form with signatures of 378 Election Committee members.

I have done my best,” Ho told the Electoral Affairs Committee. “I have obtained as many nominations as I could.”

Since Seng has been tapped by 378 Election Committee members, another candidate could at most gain backing from 22 members. That means Seng will officially run unopposed.

Critical Tenure

Seng will present his official political program to the Legislative Assembly in August, and go before the Election Committee for a question and answer session that same month. The committee will then vote him as chief executive-elect, with only a simple majority required.

Assuming no major scandal or other reason breaks, Seng will become just the third chief executive of the Special Administrative Region on December 20, 2019.

Macau was handed back to China from Portugal on December 20, 1999. The enclave will celebrate its 20th anniversary being an autonomous region of the People’s Republic this December.

Lawmakers in the Macau Legislative Assembly are presently crafting regulations that will oversee the next chapter of the enclave’s gaming industry – the richest on the planet. The six licensed casino operators will all see their concessions expire in 2022, and while all are expected to be issued new permits, under what governance isn’t clear.

Chui said in 2017 that the review of all aspects of the gaming industry “will perfect the laws and regulations” governing the casinos.

Seng Background

The chief executive is the head of government for Macau. The position replaced the governor of Macau when the enclave went back to China.

Macau’s chief executive role is similar to a governorship, as the rank is tasked with leading the government, signing laws, issuing executive orders, managing the budget, and appointing legislative and executive council members.

Seng has been in the Macau government for nearly as long as it’s been under Chinese control. He’s revealed that, if elected, his goal would be to improve the livelihoods of area residents. Seng also supports the “Greater Bay Area” initiative out of Beijing – the federal government’s urging of Macau to diversify its economy and promote non-gaming initiatives.

Seng comes from a prominent Macau family, his father a well-known industrialist who sold goods to the mainland. Seng was a member of the Executive Council from 2004 to 2009 under then-Chief Executive Edmund Ho.