The Legislative Assembly (AL) is voting in a new law to introduce a rental control mechanism. The article-by-article voting process was met with a great debate amongst the lawmakers.
One of the articles approved yesterday stipulates that rental contract signatures should be certified by a notary whenever the parties to the contract intend to register or cancel a rental contract.
Since this motion for amending the rental law was proposed by nine lawmakers (including Leonel Alves, Song Pek Kei, and Zheng Anting) they were responsible for responding to the questions of other lawmakers.
Several lawmakers, including Vong Hin Fai and Chan Chak Mo, raised their concern over the fact that the aforementioned amendment would complicate the process by requiring the physical presence of all parties to a rental contract when such a contract is being registered or cancelled.
Lawmakers Melinda Chan and Au Kam San remarked that the inclusion of this article cannot resolve disputes where tenants do not pay rent on time or at all yet continue to live in the rental property.
In response, Song Pek Kei said that this article was an attempt to simplify legal processes. She explained that the current legal procedure is unnecessarily long and causes delays for the public when they need to resolve rental disputes.
Leonel Alves noted that under the existing law, it is easy for landlords to think that they can avoid tax by not having a notarized signature on the contract.
He said that by requiring the presence of all involved parties when the contract is signed, the landlord’s waiting period to get a verdict from the court would be shortened.
The article-by-article analysis of the rental control law will continue today.
On the lawmakers’ agenda
BUS SAFETY Mak Soi Kun has made an inquiry to the government regarding how can it ensure the quality and safety of the bus services across the MSAR. Mak reminded the lawmakers about the recent bus accident that resulted in eight injuries and noted that the government has repeatedly emphasized that it pays close attention to bus drivers’ technical abilities and experience. He has made his inquiry to convey doubts felt by the public, that if “the drivers have had professional training, […] how come there are frequent severe accidents caused because of the drivers?” Mak suggested that authorities should “attract young people” to positions as heavy vehicle drivers.
AL CAMPAIGN Pereira Coutinho has said that he “is very concerned” about the Electoral Affairs Commission for the Legislative Assembly Election. The commission reported their intent to rule that the candidate’s propaganda vehicles could only conduct propaganda activities at roads previously determined by lucky draw during the campaign. “I deem such behaviors to go against the Basic Law and many other laws that were passed by the AL,” declared Coutinho. “If the committee indeed pays attention, then it is restricting the basic rights granted to election procedures. I cannot accept it, it [the regulation] has no reason for existing, is dangerous, and is illegal at the same time,” said Coutinho.
SOON TO RETIRE LAWMAKERS Both Chan Meng Kam and Kwan Tsui Hang highlighted their intention to retire from the AL and voiced some of their regrets. Chan noted that the “democratic political reform is walking slowly, directly elected lawmakers are still the minority in the AL, […] house, transportation, and medical problems stand out, expenditures with civil servants and social welfare are huge.” Kwan said. “The fifth AL is finishing soon, and I will leave the AL. I hope that laws for employment policy and labor rights can be implemented more effectively.”
Verbal fight between lawmakers
A fiery exchange occurred yesterday during the AL plenary meeting, involving lawmakers Au Kam San, Tsui Wai Kun and Cheang Chi Keong. The episode took place during a voting session concerning the law for the government’s budget.
A few lawmakers, including Pereira Coutinho, said that the government lacked administration transparency.
The budget law suggests that the government should set up its budget based on economy efficiency rules.
Au Kam San commented that this would create problems, and cited the case of the region’s former top prosecutor Ho Chio Meng. According to Au, such rules do not work, as situations like Ho Chio Meng’s case still take place nowadays.
“What is the human resources capacity at the Financial Service Bureau? Has the bureau the ability to evaluate so many departments in Macau. These internal inspections are nearly abandoned,” said Au, adding that “Ho Chio Meng’s case took place because he did not respect the rules.”
Au noted that only the AL’s public affairs follow-up committee has been following and questioning the government regarding its expenditures.
Au’s comments triggered a strong reply from Tsui Wai Kun.
“[If you say] the public affairs follow up committee does not know how to ask questions, […] why don’t you come to ask since you know how to ask questions. […] why haven’t you attended the meetings? Is it because there was no media to talk to?” asked Tsui.
Cheang Chi Keong used the words “very shocked” to describe his feelings about Au’s comments regarding the government, which used Ho Chio Meng case as an example.
“I am really shocked, it is a huge slander to the general civil servants, […] in order to avoid general civil servants misunderstanding you, you should consider taking back what you just said,” said Cheang.
“Regardless if I discredited [the civil servants], to be honest, ordinary civil servants do not have the rights to do this, but only department’ leaders have,” said Au.
Tsui Wai Kwan then replied saying “Au Kam San seems to know a lot of things, […] I suggest Au to go looking for Cheong Weng Chon (Commissioner Against Corruption),” said Tsui.
Overall, regarding the law, lawmakers Pereira Coutinho and Leong Veng Chai questioned the government about how it can ensure impartial internal supervision.
The law was passed yesterday. Following the vote, Au Kam San, in his joint statement made with Ng Kuok Cheong, noted that due to the lack of policies, the AL cannot supervise the government. He suggested that the city should establish a mechanism which allows the AL to supervise the government, so that the latter can use public funds more effectively and carefully.
“[The government] banned the AL’s supervision, which is disappointing,” said Au, adding that he hopes both the AL and the MSAR public will work towards establishing a supervision mechanism allowing AL to supervise the government.
In a joint statement, Song Pek Kei, Si Ka Lon and Chan Meng Kam said, “projects that involve a large amount of public money are still being decided by governmental departments, […] The outsourcing of such projects should be deliberated by the AL, and we hope that such a mechanism can be implemented in the future.”
Angela Leong also made a statement: “this law […] still lacks clear accountability mechanisms, which disappoints the public a bit. I hope that the budget law can be improved.”
Lam Heong Sang also suggested enhancing the AL’s supervision functions regarding governmental expenditures.