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Electoral laws get final approval
For some it marked the beginning of a new and better policy, for others it meant the end of a long and lost battle against “clientelism” and “inequality”. The “2+2+100” bills which propose two more indirectly and two indirectly elected seats to the next Legislative Assembly (AL), and 100 more members to the Chief Executive (CE) election committee were approved in yesterday’s AL plenary. Four lawmakers voted against them.
During long hours of debate, lawmakers pronounced their opinions in favor of acting according to the regulations of the Basic Law and supporting democracy. However, as regards the ways to attain these goals, opinions seemed to differ. Here, differences in vocabulary distinguished the ones who see the amendments to both election laws as “political progress”, whereas to others it represents a “political setback”.
The articles regarding the election of the AL were the ones voted on; discussions will continue today with the debate on legal aid and the central schemes accounts. “The change for direct suffrage is little progress towards democracy”, admitted lawmaker Chan Wai Chi, “but the other articles are a setback. The increase of the direct suffrage should be higher.” The lawmaker referred to data obtained through an “objective and scientific survey”, according to which the majority of citizens “were of the opinion that the AL should concentrate on the universal suffrage of lawmakers.”
His conclusion about the changes was: “It’s an illusion for Macau. It looks as if a miracle has been done”, but according to his calculations, the proportion of the population that supported these changes “represents only 39.4%.” Also for Pereira Coutinho, the proposal in general means a “setback” as “the government did not fulfill its democratic goal to augment the direct suffrage”. It should “promote” the Basic Law more. By contrast, Sio Chi Wai thinks the “law proposals represent the synergy of the population’s opinions”.
The Secretary for Administration and Justice, Florinda Chan, clarified that the new laws don’t meant a setback, but “correspond to the Basic Law and had the large consent of the population.” She assured “it will bring a development towards democracy.” The secretary also took the opportunity to correct what she considered to be a misunderstanding by Pereira Coutinho about the Basic Law.
The changes in the indirect suffrage are “against the equality of the residents before the law according to the Basic Law”, manifested Au Kam San. He complained that out of 33 lawmakers, residents “can only vote 14 directly.”
But Vong Hin Fai corrected him, referring to article 26 quoted by Au Kam San, according to which “residents have right to vote and to be elected according to the law.” He concluded: “Well, it’s that election law that we are changing.”
Paul Chan Wai Chi pointed out the “imbalance between AL lawmakers”, as “businessmen occupy too many seats, more than 60%”. He thinks “indirect suffrage will worsen this”. Florinda Chan then rose again to speak in favor of the indirectly elected lawmakers saying that, “they are also representative”.
Tsui Wai Kwan contributed to that position questioning whether the often-acclaimed direct suffrage is better. He referred to the political systems in Taiwan and Korea, where “corruption and fights also take place.” Several protests were made against the distribution of seats for the different sectors. Melinda Mei Yi Chan argued in favor of more seats for social services. Florinda Chan agreed with her but said the distribution corresponded to the “reality in Macau.”
Cheung Lup Kwan Vitor rounded up the discussions holding that this procedure represents an “eternal fight” where, “complete justice can never be reached”. He concluded that “democracy must include tolerance.”
As to the voting of the bill for the election of the Chief Executive, Au Kam San protested that the voters are composed of a “small circle, and we don’t know the members.” Pereira Coutinho recalled that the two main principles of the Basic Law should be “coherence and integrity” and questioned: “Will the amendments not interfere in other laws?” With this question he obtained the consent of Chan Chak Mo, who realized that it was his “first time to agree with Coutinho.”
In the statements that followed the voting, Ho Sio Kam expressed the opinion that theses laws do no represent “a final step but, will be developed according to the reality of Macau’s population.”
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