Q&A | Agnes Lam – Newly elected lawmaker: ‘I don’t want to be the populist or the protectionist’

When it resumes, the Legislative Assembly will have new faces, as a result of the direct election and the new appointments made by the Chief Executive (CE).

Regarding the law- makers chosen by the CE, Chui Sai On decided on an almost complete reorganization of the members seated in the chamber, appointing six new faces to the seven seats. In the elected positions decided by the popular vote, there will be three new faces.
In the first installment of a series of interviews to the new lawmakers chosen by popular vote, the Times spoke to newly elected lawmaker Agnes Lam.

A professor at the University of Macau, where she is also an Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Lam has been leading the association Macau Civil Power for over nine years. Through this work she gained most of her momentum and expressed many of her ideas about how to address issues that affect the livelihoods of the people of Macau.

Running for the third time for a seat at the Legislative Assembly, Lam was finally elected grabbing the 10th seat with a total of 9,590 votes.

Macau Daily Times (MDT) – What will be your first priority when the Legislative Assembly resumes its works?

Agnes Lam (AL) – My first priority will be on matters related with Typhoon Hato. As we saw [during the passage of the typhoon] the infrastructure here in Macau cannot cope with a typhoon like that and so I think we need to have some new measures in place as soon as possible. We will focus mostly on safety measures for all the buildings in general and special measures to be enforced in the rebuilding of the Patane area [most subjected to be affected by flooding].

MDT – You said before that you want to be a middle-ground between opposing lawmakers at the AL. In which topics do you think your position can make a difference?

AL – We know that there are several factions and some of them are very eager to ask for compensation for people [regarding several aspects]. I can say I also agree with that but I must say [our way to approach the topic] is not only about the compensation itself but about how we should have a scheme to set some precedence and a system that could calculate what we should give or how much we should give.

So it’s not just about if I agree or not with some kind of compensation or subsidies but about a real planning and true suggestions [on how to make such a system work]. I don’t want to be the populist – that is always calling for money – or the protectionist that always worried with public money. I will try to find out a way to make the compensation or the subsidy in a more thorough way.

MDT – You stated that you wouldn’t like the CE to appoint only businessmen to the Legislative Assembly.  Now that he appointed six new faces, of which four are scholars, how do you perceive these choices? Will they have a more fact-based based contribution?

AL – I think it is good [that the CE appointed scholars] as [the appointment] of scholars would always be better than [appointing] businessmen because I think business [interests] have enough representation already at the Legislative Assembly. I’m happy to see all those new faces now and I look forward to working with them. I think they will [have a more fact-based approach] as they come from different areas and they have different academic backgrounds and I think they can do a good job.

MDT – Do you think this new composition of the parliament in both directly elected and appointed lawmakers will be any different from previous ones?

AL – I’m not sure about that but I sure hope so. I hope that even if they [the six appointed by the CE lawmakers] are appointed members they can still speak from their own discipline and from their own background [not restricting themselves to approve whatever the government proposes].

MDT – This legislature will include many important topics and during that period there will be a change of the CE. Do you think the way the Legislative Assembly will work with all the new lawmakers can affect the choice of the new Chief Executive (CE)?

AL – I think we have about 35 to 40 percent of new people [lawmakers] at the Legislative Assembly and I think these new people can make some difference. I wouldn’t say they could influence the CE election directly but I think the way this new assembly works can influence the way the new CE will look at the political spectrum or dynamics in the society. I don’t think it is realistic to think that the Legislative Assembly work can in anyway influence the possible choice for a certain person to be the CE.

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