MACAO, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Fernando Chui Sai On was sworn in as the third-term chief executive (CE) of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) Sunday morning, heralding a new era in the SAR after its rapid development in the past ten years.
Born in Macao in 1957, Chui comes from a well-off and politically well-connected local clan. He completed his secondary education at the Ling Nam School in Macao, and continued his studies in the United States. Chui graduated from the California State University of Sacramento with a bachelor degree in community health with honor. He then obtained his master degree and doctor degree of public health at the University of Oklahoma.
Before the establishment of the SAR, he had served as a directly-elected lawmaker on the Fifth Legislative Assembly from 1992 to 1996.
He also played an active role in various local community organizations, such as Executive Director of the Macao Kiang Wu Hospital Charitable Association, Honorary President of the Macao Nursing Association and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Macao Association for the Mentally Handicapped, before 1999.
Chui won the lone-contender CE election in July this year, and was later appointed by China's central government as the third-term CE of the Macao SAR.
Being the second person in Macao's history to take the office of chief executive, he was often compared with his predecessor Edmund Ho Hau Wah, the SAR's first and second-term CE.
During the election period, he told the press that there are notthe same two persons in the world, and to maintain Macao's economic growth and enhance people's livelihood, the SAR needs a leader who knows Macao and has political experience, instead of "a very powerful chief executive."
The new SAR administration will "make its utmost efforts to sustain Macao's prosperity, stability and fast development," he said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Under the leadership of Edmund Ho Hau Wah, Macao's gross domestic product (GDP) reached 141.17 billion patacas in 2008 at constant prices of 2002, which is 3.1 times the 1999 figure. This translates into 39,000 U.S. dollars of GDP per capita in 2008, one of the highest in Asia.
Having served as the SAR government's secretary for social affairs and culture ever since the establishment of the SAR in 1999,Chui witnessed Macao's rapid development and played an active role in enhancing Macao's international image in the past ten years.
During his two-term tenure as an SAR government secretary, Macao successfully held the East Asian Games and many other international sports events, while the Historical Center of Macao, a collection of over 20 ancient Western and Chinese buildings, was inscribed on the UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List. These events not only gave a significant boost to the city's image, but brought more tourists to the island city which used to be a paradise just for gamblers.
Regarding the SAR's future under his leadership, Chui promised a "sunshine government" in the coming years, and said that the new government will take measures to tackle the negative impact brought about by the global financial crisis and thoroughly review the issues of local people's livelihood, while enhancing the local health system and allocating more resources for education development.
With gaming being the pillar of local economy, Chui's future policy concerning the sector also drew great attention from local and international media.
The island city, with an area of no more than 30 square km, is currently home to more than 30 casinos and 4,600 gaming tables, and has overtaken Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenue.
However, the fact that the local gaming sector contributed more than 70 percent of the SAR's public revenues has already led the government to freezing the local gaming sector development last year.
"Excessive reliance on gambling is not a good thing for Macao," said Chui. "We hope Macao will appropriately diversify its economy to achieve a balance between gaming and non-gaming sectors."
He also said that the city should develop its culture and tourism industries in order to become a world-class leisure destination and tourism hub.
Meanwhile, Chui was well aware that there were far more serious challenges for him to deal with after his inauguration.
"The next five years will be the most important period in my life, and I will do my best to serve the Macao people," he said.
He also acknowledged the importance of Chinese mainland's unswerving support since Macao's return to the motherland.
"The Chinese mainland has always backed Macao's development. I believe it will continue to do so," he said.