Whatever may be the balance of Fernando Chui’s two terms of office [missing a year but 2019 will be continuity, without great expectations], it is important to bear in mind that the second Chief Executive (CE) of Macau did not have his life facilitated.
He was picked up by the biggest typhoon of the last 50 years, witnessed the biggest protests since the Macau SAR was created and it was on his watch that Macau went through the biggest gaming revenue crisis (14-month spiral) – all of this within the last five years!
As if that were not enough, he started his duties in the midst of the global financial crisis and in the hangover of the Ao Man Long affair – it is certainly not by chance that the fight against corruption has become his most structuring flag and can be considered the trademark of his nine years at the helm.
By electing to fight corruption Fernando Chui simply interpreted the thinking of the population: rather than prosperity, fairness or freedom, Macau residents would like, first of all, to have a society free of corruption, according to a survey published by the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong (HKUPOP).
The fight against corruption has primarily been on three fronts: the much more active role of the Commission Against Corruption; the bet on the so-called ‘Sunshine Government’, and a greater involvement by the population in the decision making process via the trivialisation of public consultations.
“The widespread use of public consultation in policymaking (now almost a norm) should be considered a credit to Chui’s government,” says Meng U Ieong, a researcher on Macau Politics (University of Macau).
“This partially fulfilled his political platform ‘a transparent and scientific decision-making government’ when he was first elected CE in 2009,” adds the lecturer from the Department of Government and Public Administration. “However, due to the incapability and some inherited weakness in the design of Macau’s political system, Chui actually broke his promise in his own hand.”
“Although Fernando S. O. Chui put forward the concept of a ‘Sunshine Government’ in his 2010 Policy Address and introduced various measures to improve accountability, transparency, efficiency and clean government, little of real substance has been achieved,” we can read in the book Gambling Dynamism (2014).
“The government still receives a great deal of criticism for its opaque administration and inefficient handling of social conflicts. Without doubt, reforms are moving in the right direction but measures for achieving the goal do not seem to be fully enforced,” state authors Victor Zheng and Wan Po-San, from Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“In some prominent government failures, like the case of Typhoon Hato occurring last year, Macau residents eventually found that there is no ‘scientific’ in the decisions made by high ranking government officials,” explains Meng U Ieong. “Moreover, it is very difficult to hold government officials accountable despite evidence that they have [been guilty of] serious misconduct. This may explain why we can see that Chui has been unwilling to face the media in recent years because of frequent government failures.”
The impact of supertyphoon Hato and the way he managed it remain one of the most negative points of Fernando Chui’s nine years.
“Chui failed to position himself as the leader in disaster relief or assure the public that the MSAR Government was able to restore order. The hardship of the public was dampened by the government’s long-time negligence of flood prevention and stable supply of electricity,” opines former University of Macau Professor Bill Chou.
Other of the political analysts to whom Macau Business requested a balance of the work conducted by the incumbent CE was Sonny Lo whose assessment could hardly be more negative.
“Politically,” charges Lo, “the Chui regime has been characterised by a kind of fear of any threat to national security, broadly defined, including cross-border crime, as telecommunication fraud and political separatism (which does not really exist in Macau).”
“If summarised into one sentence,” adds Meng U Leong, “I would say ‘a mediocre head of government who is incapable of coping with social problems [presented] by forces inside and outside Macau in a rapidly changing socio-economic environment’”.
“Politically, the Chui regime has been characterised by a kind of fear of any threat to national security, broadly defined, including cross-border crime, as telecommunication fraud and political separatism (which does not really exist in Macau)” – Sonny Lo
The Five-Year Plan
Under the ‘Sunshine Government’ concept Fernando Chui bet on the creation of a Five-Year Development Plan focused on the city’s socio-economic development spanning 2016 to 2020.
The Plan “was based upon preliminary studies and opinions collected to facilitate the comprehensive development of the MSAR in a more co-ordinated, balanced and orderly manner.”
During a post-Policy Address press conference, Chui said he expected his government to be able to carry out 75 per cent of the objectives defined by the Plan by the end of next year.
If the next CE follows the strategy and draws up a new Plan, it can be said that Fernando Chui left his mark.