SJM Holdings Co-Chairman and Executive Director Angela Leong On Kei will, assuming she sees out her term, extend her membership of Macau’s Legislative Assembly into a 20th year after securing election for a fifth term on Sunday.
Leong’s election was far from a surprise – as one of 12 candidates running for 12 seats via indirect suffrage her return was guaranteed – but it does ensure both she and arguably SJM have a seat at the table when the government shifts focus to the re-tendering of Macau casino concessions. The licenses of all six concessionaires expire in June 2022.
Despite losing her husband of 32 years, Macau gaming tycoon Stanley Ho, in May 2020 and turning 60 in March of this year, Leong has shown no signs of slowing down or relinquishing her considerable influence. In May, she acquired all interests in the group of companies that own Macau hotel and casino, L’Arc Macau, and two months later opened the HK$5 billion (US$645 million) Lisboeta hotel and entertainment complex in Cotai that she owns with son Arnaldo Ho. Originally flagged as a non-gaming property, Lisboeta is now pushing to launch casino operations using gaming tables relocated from other SJM properties.
But most valuable to Leong is her stake in SJM, which at 8.6% makes her the company’s largest individual shareholder and heavily invested in its re-tender bid. Against this backdrop, Leong’s fifth term in the Legislative Assembly becomes by far her most significant.
Originally elected in 2005, this year represents the first time that Leong has taken the indirect route and she will now spend the next four years representing Macau’s culture and sports sector alongside running mate Chan Chak Mo.
The direct portion of the election was mainly notable for attracting the lowest voter turnout since the establishment of the Macau SAR in 1999 with just 137,279 people casting their votes this year, down 14.84 percentage points compared with 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic, threat of typhoons and disqualification of almost all pro-democracy candidates in the lead-up for failure to uphold the Basic Law of Macau have all been blamed for the low turnout.
Of the 14 candidates to win seats on Sunday, seven join the Legislative Assembly for the first time.
Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, is required to appoint another seven legislators by 27 September to form a total of 33 members for the new term of the Legislative Assembly, which will begin sitting in mid-October.