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Lawmakers pass outline of legislative election amendment bill

2023-12-05 03:38     BY Tony Wong    Comment:25

The Legislative Assembly (AL) unanimously passed the outline of a government-initiated bill yesterday amending the Legislative Assembly Election Law, which proposes that the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) will be tasked with assessing whether legislative election candidates uphold the MSAR Basic Law and bear allegiance to the MSAR.

The MSAR Legislative Assembly election, which takes place every four years, comprises direct and indirect elections. The current legislature has 33 members, comprising 14 deputies directly elected by universal suffrage, 12 deputies indirectly elected by registered association representatives and seven deputies appointed by the chief executive.

The next legislative direct and indirect elections will be held in 2025.

Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon introduced the outline of the bill during a plenary session in the legislature’s hemicycle yesterday.

After yesterday’s passage of its outline, the bill will be passed to one of the legislature’s standing committees for an article-by-article review, after which it will be resubmitted to another plenary session for its second and final debate and article-by-article vote.

Cheong noted yesterday that with the aim of ensuring the full implementation of the “patriots governing Macau” principle and improving the administrative procedures for the organisation of the legislative elections, the local government carried out a public consultation between June 15 and July 29 on proposed amendments to the Legislative Assembly Election Law.

After studying the opinions collected during the public consultation while also considering Macau’s real situation, Cheong said, the government drafted the Legislative Assembly Election Law amendment bill.

According to Cheong, the bill proposes that when the Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEAL) is assessing legislative election candidates’ qualifications, it will be required to request the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the MSAR to assess whether the candidates uphold the MSAR Basic Law and bear allegiance to the MSAR.

The bill proposes that if the CAEAL decides to disqualify a legislative election candidate after the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the MSAR has concluded that he or she does not uphold the MSAR Basic Law or has been disloyal to the MSAR, the respective candidate cannot file an appeal to the CAEAL nor the courts against the decision.

In such circumstances, according to the bill, he or she will also be ineligible to stand as a candidate for the next five years.

Moreover, according to Cheong, the bill also proposes to criminalise those who publicly incite others to cast blank or invalid votes, or to abstain from voting, in the legislative election. The bill proposes that the offenders will face a prison term of up to three years.

According to Cheong, the bill also proposes to extend the scope of those who will be fined after announcing the results of an election opinion poll during the election campaign period.

The current version of the Legislative Assembly Election Law bars the announcement of election opinion poll results during the election campaign period. However, according to the law’s current version, only media organisations, advertising companies, and polling institutions or companies are fined between 10,000 patacas and 100,000 patacas for violating this rule.

According to Cheong, the bill proposes that any individuals and entities will face a fine for violating this rule.

Replying to questions from lawmakers, Cheong also underlined that the bill also aims to encourage more residents to stand as candidates for the legislative elections or cast their ballots in the elections.

Cheong also said that in each of several previous legislative elections, some candidacy lists “unintentionally” violated certain provisions of the Legislative Assembly Election Law just because their members did not clearly understand the law. 


Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon addresses yesterday’s plenary session in the Legislative Assembly’s (AL) hemicycle. – Photo: GCS


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