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Macau gets new leader

Macau gets new leader

Macau: Macau’s former culture minister was anointed on Sunday as the new chief executive in the gambling enclave’s first change of leadership since reverting to Chinese rule a decade ago.

Fernando Chui’s endorsement by a 300-member panel loyal to Beijing was a mere formality because he was the only candidate.

“I am now ready to take firm action and start out on the mission bestowed upon me by the new era," the 52-year-old Chui told members of the election panel shortly after his election.

Chui will figure prominently in Macau’s efforts to recover from falling revenue growth in the gambling industry. He has pledged to draw up plans to diversify the gambling-driven economy of Macau — the only place on Chinese soil were casinos are legal — but no immediate changes are expected in the city’s gaming policies.

The incumbent, Edmund Ho, announced last year that Macau will not issue new casino licenses and approve new applications for additional gambling tables or slot machines in the near future.

Chui received 282 votes on Sunday, according to Chu Kin, president of Macau’s election affairs committee. He will take office in December and serve a five-year term after his appointment receives formal approval from Beijing.

It marks Macau’s first leadership change since the former Portuguese colony was returned to China in 1999.

Unlike neighboring Hong Kong, the city of about half a million people has a history of strong pro-China sentiment and only a token presence of pro-democracy opposition lawmakers.

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