Macau will hold its Legislative Assembly election on September 12. Twenty-one local candidates were disqualified by the EAC last Friday (July 9) for not upholding the Basic Law and pledging allegiance to the Macau SAR government, including 15 pro-democracy candidates. Those disqualified include a senior pro-democracy legislator. Analysts believe that the Macau authorities’ blocking of pro-democracy candidates is related to the situation in Hong Kong, reflecting that “one country, two systems” has completely lost its demonstration role.
After receiving notification from the Macau authorities that they were not eligible to run for the election, the three groups of democratic candidates held a joint press conference last Saturday (July 10). Among those present was Ng Kwok Cheong, who has been a member of the Legislative Assembly since 1992. He described it as a crude political decision.
We will not only support the government’s policy, but also criticize and oppose it,” Wu said. Does the prevention of abuse of public funds hurt the Special Administrative Region? Is preventing corruption and exposing suspected corruption the same as not supporting the Special Administrative Region? I think absolutely not.”
The EAC announced on July 9 that among the 19 groups of directly elected candidates, six groups of 21 have been “proven” to be ineligible to run for office because they do not support the Macau Basic Law and are not loyal to the Macau SAR government, and have been notified and are waiting for a response and replacement. As for what evidence based on the decision, the EAC did not disclose.
Democrats: no conscience
Cheng Ming Xuan is the first candidate in the five-member list of Wu Guochang’s candidacy. He told the Voice of America that the decision of the EAC was unjustifiable. He has a clear conscience as a democrat.
There are many things that cannot be explained by common sense, and we should not try to rationalize these decisions or even censor ourselves for them,” Cheng said. What we are pushing for is for more civil rights to be put into practice. The government will have better governance and people’s lives will be improved. This is a universally agreed value. As people who believe in democracy and in the rule of law should not review their own behavior. What’s more, many things have now become unconscionable.”
Cheng Ming Hin is an assistant to senior legislator Ng Kwok Cheong. He believes the decision by the Macau authorities is a serious blow to the long-established mode of operation of Macau society.
In fact, there are only a few directly elected members from the democratic camp in the legislature now, and they have never been a big threat to the harmony and unity of governance,” Cheng said. They only provide a supervisory role (to the government) and a channel to express citizens’ opinions. Such a balanced role also feels obtrusive, and if we were to get rid of it, this would break the tacit agreement that originally existed: there can be murmurs, but they cannot obstruct the overall situation. This also impacts the established set of ways in Macau.”
Cheng said that once Macau’s pro-democracy camp loses access to the legislature, it will become more difficult for Macau people to express voices that are different from the government’s.
It will be difficult for an independent force to monitor the government to survive if it does not have the support of the parliament,” Cheng said. If (the government) blocks this force inside the parliament, can they behave outside the parliament and find ways to raise money, try to survive and take on the role of monitoring outside the parliament? Will they be able to act as dissident leaders who help citizens? I also doubt that possibility.”
In addition to Cheng Ming-hsuan’s list of five, the five registered candidates of the pro-democracy group “Society Forward” have also been ruled ineligible to run. At the top of this list is incumbent Legislative Councilor So Ka-ho. Another democratic list, “New Macau Progressive Association”, was also disqualified.
All three groups of democrats said they would not change their candidates or withdraw from the election, but would insist on going through the entire process of running for office, and would appeal to the Court of Final Appeal if necessary, in order to protect the right of Macau people to run for office without political discrimination, as guaranteed by the Basic Law. They reminded Macau people to cherish the freedom of press, speech and election that they once had, because there is a chance that these rights will suddenly disappear.
Democrats will have a hard time in the future
Macau current affairs commentator Huang Dong believes that the revocation of candidacy could be a fatal blow to the pro-democracy camp.
Huang Dong said, “What will happen to the pro-democracy camp (in Macau)? It’s true that this kind of situation has never happened before. They probably don’t have a countermeasure for that now either. They don’t have any money behind their propaganda activities that cost money, such as taking to the streets, and they don’t have the so-called collusion with foreign powers. (In the past) the legislators earned tens of thousands of dollars a month, and according to the rules set, half of it would be donated to maintain the operation of the association, so if they had zero income it would be tens of thousands of dollars less a month to survive in a city like Macau where the cost of living is relatively high. I am afraid to imagine.”
The Macau EAC said to the public on Friday that they were qualified through information provided by the police, and refused to disclose what evidence they had on hand on the grounds that they had entered the judicial process.
According to current affairs commentator Huang Dong, it is particularly absurd that two incumbent legislators were among those disqualified from running for office.
Huang Dong said, “Taking a piece of paper out to read and running away after simply responding to a reporter’s question shows that they themselves are weak-minded. It is absurd to the core. They are making up charges without any reason or evidence. These two legislators (Wu Guochang and Su Jiahao), especially Wu Guochang, have gone through a long period of time from the Australian-Portuguese government to now. How many officials and the EAC have agreed with him. Do these people not support the Basic Law and the SAR Government? And should they be pulled down as well?”
In November 2020, 15 members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council announced their general resignation in protest of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress declaring four other members disqualified. And until then, the pro-democracy camp had been the main force in the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Compared to Hong Kong, the pro-democracy camp is weak in Macau’s Legislative Assembly, with only four members elected to the legislature through direct elections in the last election. As the pro-democracy camp in Macau has always maintained a low profile, the outside world once thought that the Macau government would not lay a heavy hand on them.
Huang Dong said: “Good children do not have candy to eat, because it does not give you food, you beg it is useless. Macau society as a whole does not have many voices of resistance. It is not afraid of you. Now it has reached the point where it can be naked. The emperor’s new clothes are not wanted.
The disillusionment of “one country, two systems” has lost its demonstration role
Yu Yong Yi, associate professor of the Department of Government and Administration at the University of Macau, believes that the decision of the Macau authorities is related to the situation in Hong Kong.
Yu said, “In the past, Beijing allowed Hong Kong to have greater opposition or opposition forces. To a certain extent, it was hoping to use ‘one country, two systems’ to convince Taiwan to accept reunification, but in the past two years, the anti-Sending China movement in Hong Kong has taken the veil off ‘one country, two systems’ and Taiwan will not accept ‘one country, two systems ‘ as a reunification arrangement. Hong Kong is now proposing a ‘second degree of reunification’, while many people actually believe that Macau was reunified long before it was even reunified, so now it is actually a ‘deepening of reunification’.”
According to Yu, the disqualification of Macau’s pro-democracy camp shows that Hong Kong and Macau will become “integrated”.
When there is still a certain amount of opposition in Hong Kong, and Beijing has to have certain taboos against them, it won’t do so much because it has to maintain the so-called opposition under ‘one country, two systems’,” Yu said. voices and free human rights, etc. However, when ‘one country, two systems’ as a tool for unification has been disillusioned, so to speak, ‘one country, two systems’ has lost its most important political function, and Beijing does not need to use ‘one country, two systems ‘ to package full governance of the Hong Kong and Macao SARs.”