The Chief’s third life
He came in with impact, a nationalistic political network, and a commanding energy that was a breath of fresh air. But Covid-19 took it all away.
Three years later, Ho Iat Seng leaves the zero-case politics without the aura of entrepreneurship, strategic vision and executive ability that surrounded him. As it is also an unknown what impact he has today in the capital, where the temptation to blame regional leaders grows. And so begins the race for a second term.
Ho Iat Seng has good assets. For one thing, the population is surrendered to the idea that the choice of the Chief is not their business – it is an issue between Beijing and the local elites. Then he has accomplished the missions imposed on him in the pandemic siege, the attack on VIP gambling, and the patriotic agenda. And no matter how much he has squandered the financial reserve, there is enough there and more for this term – and the next. Finally, having blindly followed the central power, theoretically Ho Iat Seng has held his fate. If at that time the decision-makers are the same, and think the same way….
Where is Ho Iat Seng most at risk?
First, in the electoral college itself. It does not exist exactly to disagree with the central power, but it can influence the opinion that is formed in Beijing. Then, if the Macau elite say what is heard in the city today… Ho Iat Seng has a problem.
Then, it is not even fair to demand that in two years, casino revenues will skyrocket and economic diversification will be fulfilled. There is no political context and no economic dynamics for that; not even if now, by some miracle, investments in the Greater Bay Area and the Lusophone Countries would multiply.
It is not going to happen.
Finally, Ho Iat Seng faces a problem of isolation, created by a palatial, conservative, and inward-looking style of governance. This is very difficult to reverse – not least because it is his style – and may not fit in the next cycle.
One thing is certain: since the MSAR is so small, and its economy so rentier, so dependent on the State, the success of its leader is always the success of the city.
This is the greatest asset Ho Iat Seng has.
May he know how to use it…
*General Director of PLATAFORMA