In December last year we published the list of the 20 most influential people in Macau.
And we realized that they were almost all men.
* “The Future is Feminist” is the name of a book edited by Mallory Farrugia (2019)
MB August 2020 Special Report | 20 (+20) influential women
Ho Sut Heng – The Traditional Unionist
It is not easy in Macau to know the real weight of thousands of associations, but it is commonly accepted that the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) is one of the most important organizations – if not the most influential grassroots group – from before and after the handover.
It represents 43 sector branch trade unions, with more than 50,000 members.
After many years as a vice-president, Ho Sut Heng became the president of FAOM, an organization which she had already been linked to for at least four decades. Ms Ho she is 60 years old, meaning that her connection to the Federation started when she was in her teens.
Its main goals are the improvement of local labour rules and regulations, as well as better relationships between employers and employees.
As a result of her duties at FAOM, Ms Ho was eventually given other responsibilities.
She served on the Executive Council during the two terms of Chui Sai On, but stepped aside with the arrival of Ho Iat Seng to be replaced by another FAOM heavyweight (and vice-president of the union), the former lawmaker Lee Chong Cheng.
As a result of Ho not having been reappointed, the Chief Executive’s top advisory body is left without a single female member.
Most importantly, she has been one of the 12 Macau representatives to the National People’s Congress since 2008.
As a representative at the NPC, Ms Ho has taken on other responsibilities that go beyond the labour area.
The rights of Macau residents, when they choose to live on the Mainland, or the connection to Hengqin are some of these different interests, which she has publicly defended.
As FAOM is an organization very close to the Chinese government, a 2013 episode showed a curious side of Ho Sut Heng. When discussing the feasibility of demolishing a pillbox in Coloane, linked to the colonial era, to build a real estate project, Ho intervened to stand for heritage preservation: “We have to strike a balance. We cannot only think of economic development, our history needs to be preserved.”
Juliana Devoy – The Protector
There are many reasons for Juliana Devoy to be on this list, where she is the only woman born in the West or without Chinese blood.
Sister Juliana is also the only religious woman on this list, and that factor allowed her another record: of the 40 women we chose, she is likely the one who helped the most women directly. It also helps to be the one who has the most life experience, with her being 80 years old.
Sister Juliana Devoy, missionary and director of the Good Shepherd Centre in Macau, has become the face of the fight against human trafficking and one of the most active voices in the defence of a law that could truly protect victims of domestic violence.
After spending 25 years in Hong Kong, Sister Juliana arrived in Macau in 1988 and the centre almost immediately began its operations to welcome women at risk, namely victims of domestic violence. The institution currently has a shelter in Macau that welcomes single mothers, victims of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking.
With a life dedicated to upholding women’s rights and protection, it is normal to be approached by some of them or their families, who do not forget the help they received. “Today whenever I go anywhere I’m sure to meet someone who was once in our centre. Some I don’t even recognize, because it was many years ago and some were only children who came with their mothers, and now they’re young adults. But they recognize me and will always come to greet me.”
But her intervention is not limited to the walls of the centre at nº111 of Rua Central.
Just remember how she was one of the most active voices in the debate on the bill to prevent and combat domestic violence (2016). To show her gratitude, she then organized a citywide celebratory march.
The creation of a more just and humane adoption process is her most recent activity on the frontline.
“Since I’m celebrating my 60 years as a Sister I’ve been telling everyone I meet that I can truly never thank God enough for this wonderful gift of my Good Shepherd vocation!”
Linda Chen – The Successor
Yes, the universe of Macau women linked to casino top management boils down to three, and two of them are partly owners of concessionaires and sub-concessionaires (MGM and SJM).\
But the fact that Linda Chen has no capital, at least of relevance, in Wynn Resorts, does not diminish her value in the face of Pansy Ho or Angela Leong.
On the contrary, at the curriculum level, Ms Chen can comfortably compare herself with her rivals.
Still very young, she went to work in Las Vegas: as soon as she completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University, New York, in 1989, she joined MGM, just in time to collaborate in the opening of The Mirage; later she was part of the opening team for The MGM Grand in 1993.
She stayed with MGM until 2007, having performed several functions in the company, such as Executive Vice President of International Marketing for MGM Mirage, responsible for the global marketing development of the three integrated resorts (MGM Grand, The Mirage and the Bellagio).
It is at this point that she caught Steve Wynn’s eye. Between 2007 and 2012 she served as Director of Wynn Resorts.
Wynn positive impression was affirmed, and he couldn’t believe what happened: with the Macau concession already in hand, Wynn Resorts offered Linda Chen a US$10 million (MOP80 million) bonus if she stayed with the company for the next 10 years, according to Wynn Macau’s 2011 interim report.
The contract ends next year and it will not come as a surprise if Chen is named as a replacement for Steve Wynn, as the company’s CEO.
If the latest information made public remains correct – since Mr Wynn has been out of service since 2018 – she is in the front row.
“There is a score of young people who are very smart and very healthy, in Nevada and Macau. Incidentally, Linda Chen is on the board of the parent company. So, if you ask me who could do it? A Chinese woman,” Steve Wynn said some years ago. He even referred to her as “a member of my family… virtually one of my own daughters.”
Two more details that show the regard in which Wynn holds Ms Chen: as the Vice Chairman of the Board, Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Director of Wynn Macau, the total compensation of Linda Chen at Wynn Macau is HKD$48,052,000. There are no executives at Wynn Macau being paid more, according to wallmine.com; and how many employees receive a mobile phone number with the lucky digits 8888 from their boss?
Chen, 51 years old, is a member of the Nanjing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (Macau).
Lam Un Mui – The Discreet One
There is a detail in Lam Un Mui’s journey which distinguishes her from many other people with an identical profile in Macau: it seems that the chairwoman and the supervisor general of the Women’s General Association of Macau was never too keen on being member of the Legislative Assembly.
Throughout successive elections, the Association has managed to elect at least one legislator, but Lam Un Mui, who has been on several lists, in rather low-key positions, never took first or second place.
Despite being the Association’s chairperson, Lam seems to prefer to work in the backstage.
And there is no shortage of such work, since the group is running social services, nurseries and centres that deal with all sorts of issues, such as the education and training of women and psychotherapy services.
The Women’s General Association of Macau was established in 1950 as an organization of non-profit social assistance to promote solidarity, and safeguard the rights and interests and promote the education and development of Macau women and children.
It is one of the most influential pro-Beijing associations in town and the largest women’s grassroots group. However women in Macau are yet to truly break through the glass ceiling in the upper echelons. Of the city’s principal officials, there is only one woman. And there is not a single female representative in the Executive Council.
Even so, the association has been standing for better women’s rights and conditions in some instances, such as this one in 2015, in which the Association urged the government to improve its legal framework on family policies by introducing family-friendly measures including flexible working hours, a five-day working week and paid paternity leave.
Lei Ching I – The workers’ voice
Lei Cheng I (Ella), 39, was the legislator who received the second highest number of votes in the 2017 election, garnering 16,696, just over 200 votes shy of Mak Soi Kun
Four years earlier, veteran lawmaker Kwan Tsui Hang won less than 12,000 votes and failed to get the second candidate on ticket elected.
Ella Lei’s task was therefore not an easy one.
Although she has been in the legislature since 2013, as an indirectly elected legislator, this graduate in public administration was called to replace Ms Kwan and not only increased the vote substantially, but also managed to elect a second legislator, Leong Sun Iok.
The FAOM-backed list (called Union for Development) was the list with the second most votes, and the city’s most important workers’ association was again at ease.
Lei, who is an employee of the Association and also vice-president, keeps on her agenda the two classic concerns of FAOM’s elected representatives: labour laws and migrant workers. But like her predecessors, she may end her term without seeing the trade union law passed.
However, the FAOM legislator has been bringing other matters to the Legislative Assembly’s agenda
From tobacco in casinos to transportation, from homelessness to problems at the Jockey Club, Ella Lei has been active on several fronts.
“You can’t sacrifice rights to make way for development”, she said in an interview.