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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

PROMOTING THE NEXT SAR

Macau's likely leader discusses his plans


New Era Macau's new chief has his work cut out

EDMUND HO, AN ACCOUNTANT by training, entered the family banking business at the age of 29. He has since been a Macau legislator and a vice chairman of the Preparatory Committee managing the enclave's return to China. Known for his consensus-style politics, Ho speaks fluent Cantonese, Mandarin and English. He has two children. Excerpts from a talk with Correspondent Yulanda Chung:

Did you join the leadership race to pay back China for its capital injection into your bank in the 1980s?

I have been given ample opportunities to serve Macau and China. I've reached a stage in my career where I have the qualities to do more for the community. You can say [the race] is a continuation of what I've done before. So, in a way, yes, I am paying back what was given to me by Macau and China.

As you're tipped to win, do you feel you don't have to campaign earnestly?

Definitely not. As a candidate, it's my responsibility to meet more people and let them understand my manifesto. The media attention to Macau gives me a good chance to promote the enclave both here and abroad.

How will Macau fare under "one country, two systems"?

We must abide strictly by the model. We hope there will be no drastic changes in our lifestyle. But in five to 10 years, I'm sure people want to see improvements in their living standards, in the economy and in public security. I'm worried that expectations might rise too high before the handover, but I'm willing to put my life on the line to fulfil people's wishes.

You sound as if colonial rule has gone against popular expectations.

I wouldn't say we've suffered. But all these years, we've put up with a lot under the colonial government. Naturally we all want change.

How do you see Macau's post-handover relationship with China?

Macau and Zhuhai will be increasingly close. Macau lacks a big internal market and natural resources, and its bureaucracy inhibits growth of the economy. We must merge with the Pearl River delta region. We should fully utilize China's technological edge and commercialize it.

What about the public-order problem?

It has been attributed partly to conflicts of interests in the gambling business. With China's support, I believe the problem can be solved within a short period [after the handover]. But even if I have a strategy to combat crime, I cannot reveal it so [criminals] can take precautions.

What will you do with the gambling monopoly when it expires in 2001?

We must conduct objective studies before deciding. We need to find out what encourages crime. Is it because of the monopoly, or because of supervision [problems] by the concession holder? I would bring in casino experts from the U.S. and Australia to give us unbiased views on the matter.

Are you satisfied with the localization progress of the civil service?

Compared with Hong Kong, it is obviously a lot slower here. But we don't want to argue about that now. We have to cope with it.


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