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Pro-gov’t groups declining, young democrats and former candidates have good chance
Macau is holding an election of the 5th Legislative Assembly (AL) later this year. As it will be the first polling event since the political reform that will add two seats to the directly elected and two to the indirectly elected (Functional Constituency) sections. It’s widely expected that more candidates will be joining the campaign this year, making the contest much more competitive. In a preliminary review of the election, scholars said the pro-government groups’ clouts are declining while the pro-democracy camp is enjoying the more competitive advantages due to a rising political awareness. This will give young professionals and activists a good chance , as well as candidates who lost the AL election four years ago with high votes.
“There will be two more directly elected seats so the pro-democracy camp has a good chance,” said political scientist Mr. Eric Sautedé. For the influential groups that are traditionally the government’s main supportive forces inside and outside the AL, the chance is not so good. “Kai Fong’s (Macau General Union of the Neighborhood Associations) influence is declining, it’s losing ground and is not as strong as it should be”. For the Federation of Trade Unions, the scholar believes its current lawmaker Ms. Kwan Tsui Hang to still be legitimately active in workers’ related issues, as a pro-government socialist.
“I would like to see more young professionals such as journalists, architects, lawyers, educators and activists to come together and participate in the election,” Mr. Sautedé told MDT, “ANM’s (New Macau Association) Jason Chao and Scott Chiang are attracting a lot of attention, I believe they have a pretty large base of supporters amongst the young people.”
I would like to see more young professionals such as journalists, architects, lawyers, educators and activists to come together
- Eric Sautedé
Commenting on the chances of Macao Conscience activist Bill Chou, who is also a University of Macau scholar, Mr. Sautedé said “I know him personally, he’s a decent man with principles…but I don’t think his election base is strong enough.” However, he believed this election could serve as a warm up for Mr. Chou’s next campaign for an AL seat.
The following individual lawmakers have already announced intention to run for re-election: Angela Leong and Melinda Chan. The political scientists argue that Angela Leong is relying solely on her employees for her votes, “but with SJM casinos’ workers, she could get enough votes to be elected, however she can’t get every vote of SJM’s employees.” For Melinda Chan, he said: “She’s re-inventing herself as ‘lady of the people’”, and with the support of her husband [David Chow], she has a chance.
The indirectly elected section will also have two more lawmakers this year. “Functional constituencies a group of people defending their own narrow-minded business interests, such as real estate,” the scholar said, “Should make the sector more reasonable so that the education sector will not have to rely on a businessman in the food and beverage sector, Chan Chak Mo, to voice educators’ concerns in AL?” The scholar called for a scrapping of the indirectly elected and Chief Executive appointed lawmakers and have AL elections by universal suffrage. He also warned there might still be some corruptive practice such as vote-buying and vote-rigging in this election.
Commenting on the city’s political tendency as a whole, Eric Sautedé doesn’t expect a so-called “radical” development similar to Hong Kong’s recent Legislative Council election that saw the rise of several democrats who chose to confront the establishment with blunt language and some physical force.
“Ng Kuok Cheong, Au Kam San and Chan Wai Chi are vocal but patient; they don’t see themselves as outside the framework. As for Jason Chao and Scott Chiang, they are provocative and challenging the government, but it’s difficult to imagine that there will be a Long Hair in Macau. More importantly, HK has the British tradition of provocation and disrespect of authority.”
Kwan Tsui Hang
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