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CE: No final decision on smoking lounges

The top official said the government would not bend to one particular industry

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On stressed that the MSAR Government has not yet made a final decision on smoking lounges in local casinos. Speaking to reporters yesterday before departing for Fujian and Guangdong for a three-day official trip, he emphasised that the MSAR Government would make a decision based upon the benefits to the general public rather than one industry.
“I haven’t received a final decision [from the related departments]. There are varied opinions on the issue no matter inside the government or from other sectors,” the top official said. “But the government will put benefits of Macau residents as a priority [and not] kneel down to a certain industry. This is our responsibility.”
Earlier this month, the Health Bureau made a u-turn on the city’s full-smoking ban bill for casinos, proposing to allow the establishment of smoking lounges in gaming venues as long as the rooms met set standards.
The Bureau’s proposed amendment to the bill was announced two days after the release of a survey conducted by the six local gaming operators claiming 60 per cent of the 14,301 interviewed casino employees agree with ‘solutions that allow smoking lounges’ in casinos.
Having passed its first reading in 2015, the government-backed bill initially proposed banning smoking in all indoor areas of gaming venues, in addition to eliminating current smoking lounges.
The bill is currently under Article-by-Article discussion by the second standing committee of the Legislative Assembly.

One Belt, One Road
According to the top official, he is meeting the provincial governments of Fuzhou and Guangzhou during the trip. The meetings, meanwhile, will focus on the parties’ participation and co-ordination in the country’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ development.
The Chief Executive added that the meetings also aim to strengthen the parties’ co-operation interests; in particular, in terms of trade investment as well as humanities and culture.
He believes that the MSAR could develop its own advantages and speed up diversification of the economy via co-operation with the two provinces.
On the other hand, the Chief Executive said he did not know that former Prosecutor-general Ho Chio Meng was being investigated by the Commission Against Corruption when he appointed Mr. Ho as co-ordinator of the Committee on Criminal and Legal Studies in 2015.
He explained that the appointment was made based upon Mr. Ho’s working experiences, stressing a public servant being investigated does not necessarily mean he is already a defendant or a suspect.