Gambling hub Macau chooses Beijing-backed man as leader

Ho lat Seng  (left) secured 392 votes from a 400-member pro-Beijing committee to emerge as Macau’s new leader. (Reuters pic)

HONG KONG: The Chinese territory of Macau elected former legislature head Ho lat Seng as its leader on Sunday, the sole approved candidate.

Ho, who has deep ties to China, is expected to cement Beijing’s control over the special administrative region and distance it from protests in neighbouring Hong Kong.

He secured 392 votes from a 400-member pro-Beijing committee to lead the world’s largest gambling hub for at least the next five years, public broadcaster TDM reported.

The 62-year-old’s highly scripted appointment comes as the former Portuguese colony tries to position itself as a beacon of stability and model for the Chinese government’s “one country, two systems” formula through which Beijing administers Macau and Hong Kong.

Although anti-government protests have roiled the former British colony of Hong Kong for nearly three months, Macau has seen little dissent to Beijing’s rule.

Ho said local youth could resist the influence of Hong Kong’s protesters and support measures to boost patriotism in Macau.