21 candidates disqualified for disloyalty to Macau SAR: govt

2021-07-12 02:54     Comment:0

The Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEAL) has announced that it has decided to disqualify 21 candidates from six direct-election lists for failing to support the Macau Basic Law or having been disloyal to the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR).

The government-appointed commission’s president, Tong Hio Fong, announced the decision in a special press conference at the Public Administration Building in Rua do Campo on Friday afternoon.

Tong, a judge by profession, declined to reveal the names of the affected lists and candidates as they still have the right to appeal. According to the Legislative Assembly Election Law and this year’s election schedule, they have the right appeal or to replace the candidates concerned today at the latest.

Tong said that even though all the 159 candidates fielded by 19 direct-election lists (candidacy groups) had formally declared their support for the Macau Basic Law and their loyalty to the MSAR when they submitted their candidacies over the past few weeks, the commission’s candidacy qualification review process, based on evidence provided by the Secretariat for Security, discovered that the 21 candidates had failed to respect the Macau Basic Law or had been disloyal to the MSAR. Therefore, he said, the 21 residents are ineligible to stand in the September 12 direct election.

According to Article 6 of the Legislative Assembly Election Law, those who refuse to declare that they uphold the Macau Basic Law and bear allegiance to the MSAR are ineligible to be a candidate for the direct or indirect legislative elections. According to the same article, residents are also ineligible to run in the elections if “facts have proved” that they do not uphold the Macau Basic Law or are disloyal to the MSAR.

“Facts have proven that the 21 candidates have failed to uphold the Macau Basic Law or have been disloyal to the Macau Special Administrative Region,” Tong said on Friday.

“Signing the declaration is merely a formality to show your promise [of upholding the Macau Basic Law and bearing allegiance to the MSAR, while there must be facts supporting their promise, as they are two different concepts,” Tong said.

Tong said that the commission had assessed the candidates’ qualifications in line with the Court of Final Appeal’s (TUI) ruling early last month which backed the police’s decision to disallow this year’s June 4 vigil.

The annual vigil had been organised by the Macau Democracy Development Union, of which veteran non-establishment lawmakers Ng Kuok Cheong and Au Kam San are senior members. The Public Security Police (PSP) had said that they had decided to disallow this year’s vigil because it would have damaged the central government’s credibility and prestige, destroyed the practice of the “One Country, Two Systems”, and contravened the Macau Penal Code.

Tong also announced that two other candidates from another list were disqualified for not being registered voters. According to the legislative election law, candidates must be listed in the electoral roll.

On Wednesday last week, the commission had announced the preliminary acceptance of 159 candidates from 19 lists vying for the legislature’s 14 directly-elected seats.

Macau’s direct election is based on the proportional representation system. Macau permanent residents aged at least 18 have the right to register as voters and candidates, irrespective of nationality and place of birth. Permanent residency is granted to residents who have “habitually” lived in Macau for seven consecutive years.

The 33-member Legislative Assembly (AL) comprises 14 deputies directly elected by universal suffrage, 12 deputies indirectly elected by association representatives and seven deputies appointed by the chief executive after the direct and indirect elections, which this time will take place on September 12 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Each direct-election list must have at least four and no more than 14 candidates.

All the 12 indirect-election candidates are running unopposed this time.

There are no political parties in Macau. Political organisations customarily set up candidacy lists a few months before the direct and indirect elections every four years.

‘Who’s Who’

Meanwhile, three lists from the so-called “pro-democracy” camp have meanwhile confirmed to the media that all of their 15 candidates have been disqualified, namely 1) the Democratic Prosperous Macau Association, of which high-profile political activist Scott Chiang Meng Hin and incumbent lawmaker Ng Kuok Cheong are the number-one and number-two candidates; 2) the New Macau Progressives headed by incumbent legislator Sulu Sou Ka Hou, and 3) the New Macau Progressive Association headed by former lawmaker Paul Chan Wai Chi. Each of the three lists has fielded five candidates.

Gaming staff unionist Cloee Chao Sao Fong, who heads the Gaming New Macau electoral list, has also confirmed that she and the list’s number-two candidate Lei Man Chao have been disqualified.

Labour rights activist Lee Sio Kuan, who heads the Ou Mun Kong I (“Macau Righteousness”) electoral list, has also confirmed to the media that he and the list’s second-ranked candidate Kuong Kai Nang, also a labour rights activist, have been disqualified by the commission as candidates.

Lee and Kuong told the media at the weekend that they have always been upholding the Macau Basic Law and loving the country and Macau.

The remaining two disqualified candidates due to their perceived failure to uphold the Macau Basic Law or disloyalty to the MSAR, according to various local media reports, are from the Macau Victory electoral list.

Meanwhile, veteran lawmaker José Maria Pereira Coutinho, who heads the Macau Civil Servants Association (ATFPM), has told reporters that there’s “no problem” with his candidacy list.

If all the 23 candidates are finally disqualified, 14.5 percent of the 159 provisionally accepted candidates would be barred from running in the direct election.

Disqualified lawmakers vow to appeal

Meanwhile, the three non-establishment electoral lists – the Democratic Prosperous Macau Association, the New Macau Progressives and the New Macau Progressive Association – announced during a joint press conference on Saturday that they will appeal to the Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission.

The number-one and number-two candidates of the three lists gave Saturday’s press conference, which was held at Ng’s office, namely Chiang and Ng from the Democratic Prosperous Macau Association, Sou and his fellow political activist Rocky Chan Lok Kei from the New Macau Progressives, and Paul Chan and political and labour rights activist Lei Kuok Keong from the New Macau Progressive Association.

The six candidates vowed that they were determined to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) if the commission decided to turn down their appeals. They insisted that they would not replace their candidates.

Meanwhile, Macau Lawyers Association (AAM) President Jorge Neto Valente told public broadcaster TDM on Saturday that he was “shocked” by the disqualification of the 21 non-establishment candidates. He said that the disqualification “is a way of defeating candidates who want to submit themselves to the people’s ballot…. and this is not freedom.”

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak told TDM on Friday on the sidelines of a committee meeting of the Legislative Assembly that it had been the Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission that requested his office provide certain information about the candidates. Wong insisted that the Secretariat for Security would not have provided the information without the commission having requested it.

Macau Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission President Tong Hio Fong announces the government-appointed body’s decision to disqualify 21 candidates for their disloyalty to the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) during a press conference at the Public Administration Building on Rua do Campo on Friday. Photo: Maria Cheang Ut Meng

(From left to right) Disqualified direct election candidates Lei Kuok Keong, Paul Chan Wai Chi, Scott Chiang Meng Hin, Ng Kuok Cheong, Sulu Sou Ka Hou, Rocky Chan Lok Kei clench their fists during Saturday’s press conference about their decisions to appeal to the Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEAL).
Photo: MPDG

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