Rita Botelho dos Santos is President of General Assembly of the Macao Civil Servant’s Association (ATFPM). Of Portuguese and Chinese descent, Santos speaks fluent Cantonese, Portuguese, Mandarin and English and also understands French.
Born in Macao, 3 October 1960, Santos recalls having a happy and fulfilled childhood. “My family and our neighbours used to play a lot of outdoor sports, including bike rides from Bairro Tagmanini Barbosa (north part of Macao) to Barra,” she reminisces. At home, both Portuguese and Cantonese were spoken, although Cantonese was more prevalent. However, her paternal grandmother made a particular effort to keep the Portuguese language alive.
As a teenager, Santos taught Portuguese to local children at both Taipa and Macao Luso-Chinese schools for two years. Upon finishing high school at Liceu Nacional Infante D. Henrique, Santos opted to work for the government.” After committing to enter Macao’s administration upon attaining her degree, Santos went to Lisbon in 1980.
She returned in 1983 with a degree in Business Organisation and Management from the Instituto das Novas Profissões de Lisboa (Portugal) and began working as a Technician in charge of auditing accounts for tax purposes at the Macao Finance Department.
Santos also earned a master’s degree in Business Management from Macau University in 1990. Her thesis focused on Taxation Systems of Macau and Asia.
She believes people only evolve by constantly learning, which inspires her to continually update herself: in addition to her master’s degrees, she also invested in learning Mandarin from 1992 and travelled to Beijing every year for short courses at the National Institute of Administration to complete a training program.
Santos was employed as Chief of Department, Municipal Director of the former Leal Senado and Administrator of the Management Board Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), from 1994 to 2003.
In 2003, she was appointed Director of the Supporting Cabinet of the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation Between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries (Forum). Santos dedicated many years working alongside representatives from Portuguese Speaking Countries with the goal of nurturing Macao’s role in international commercial and economic sectors. In July 2010, the MSAR government appointed her Deputy Secretary-General of the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao.
After dedicating more than a decade to Forum Macau, Santos stepped away in 2015 to focus on her family and the presidency of ATFPM’s General Assembly, an organisation in which she has been actively involved since 1987. Of her many impressive positions over the years, her favourite is Forum Macau representative. “I like to lead and to plan, to have time to prepare things. I am proud of the first Macau Forum which we organised from scratch with a team of six people.”
In her spare time, Santos enjoys singing, going out with friends and family and, more recently, taking care of her grandson and teaching him Portuguese songs. “My Western zodiac sign Libra is a perfect match with my personality. I see myself as a social and emotional person, who likes to help others and prioritises friendship.”