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Alexis Tam calls democracy referendum ‘illegal’ and ‘invalid’

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The chief-of-cabinet of the CE office and government spokesperson, Alexis Tam, said yesterday that a civil referendum on the Chief Executive election that was proposed this week by three groups is “illegal” and “invalid”.
Three groups – the Macau Conscience, the Macao Youth Dynamics and the Open Macau Society – are joining forces to form the “Electoral Affairs Commission on the Civil Referendum 2014 on Chief Executive Election.”
Along with Tam’s remarks, the government spokesperson’s office issued a statement saying that Macau is a region ruled by laws, and that any kind of “referendum” lacks “constitutional legal basis,” and is “illegal” and “invalid”.
“The MSAR government is strongly against the fact that some small groups are intending to challenge the legal basis of Macau,” read the statement.
The government states that the election on the Chief Executive will strictly follow the Basic Law and the amended election law that took effect on September 11, 2012.
When asked which law and article the referendum has violated, Tam said, speaking at the end of a press conference on the APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting: “The so-called ‘civil referendum’ target is the Chief Executive election. But the election has legal effect and is conducted according to the amended election law. (…) If there is a civil referendum focused on the election, it does not follow the electoral law.”   
However, Tam said that the government would not take action at this moment. “Related departments will follow up on the referendum later,” he added. 
In response to the government’s announcement, Jason Chao, one of the organizers of the referendum, said that the referendum is not “illegal,” but rather only lacks legal effect. “As the spokesperson, he [Tam]should be very familiar with the law. (…) The results [of the referendum] will not be legally binding, but it is not illegal.” 
Questioning why the government is so compelled to issue a statement regarding the referendum  Chao accused authorities of trying to confuse citizens by “playing with different concepts” and trying to “threaten” residents from joining the referendum. “(…) Since you see such fierce criticism, citizens should cherish this opportunity to take part in the referendum.” Chao expected that there would be more attacks and obstructions, but the organizers would continue with the campaign.    
The proposed civil referendum will take place between August 24 and 30 via online voting and physical polling stations. Votes will be counted on August 31, 2014, the official Election Day for the Chief Executive. The activists joining forces will announce the results of the referendum after the result of the official Chief Executive Election is announced.  


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