AL: Lawmakers exchange arguments over candidate disqualification from elections

Yesterday’s plenary session of the Legislative Assembly (AL) was marked by strong ideological clashes and an exchange of arguments between pro-democracy and pro-establishment lawmakers about the disqualification of a number of candidates from the September AL elections.
On the side of the democrats, lawmakers Ng Kuok Cheong and Au Kam San criticized the decision of the Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEAL).
Ng argued that calling for universal suffrage in the election of the Chief Executive (CE) is not an illegal act.
Noting the CAEAL decision that disqualified him from running in the elections, he said that he was accused of “having illegally promoted universal suffrage for the election of the CE, which is ridiculous.”
“I have to reiterate here that universal suffrage — which I defend inside and outside this chamber — is fully in accordance with constitutional procedures. [I defend it] in the sense that [I am] requesting the CE to present, as soon as possible and with the agreement of the central government, the respective bill to the AL to be approved by a majority of two-thirds and create a regime in which the CE is chosen by the votes of the residents.”
Continuing to express his ideas, Ng noted that in 2012 the deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Qiao Xiaoyang, did not rule out the possibility of having universal suffrage for the election of the Macau SAR Chief Executive.
“Thus, there is in no illegality regarding the call for this universal suffrage,” Ng remarked, urging the CE to press the government to “correct their political mistakes.”
In his turn, Au openly criticized the CAEAL, accusing it of abusing its powers and destroying the electoral regime.
“In the current international situation, China is under pressure from the international community due to the situation in […] Hong Kong. Suddenly, CAEAL disqualified the candidates who were not part of the pro-establishment wing, a more than notorious breach of the electoral regime. Therefore, it destroyed, on its own initiative, the principle of ‘One country, two systems’,” Au said. He added: “From the perspective of the international community, this will be seen as the central government [intending to now come] to ‘fix’ the ‘One country, two systems’ principle in Macau, after having done the same in Hong Kong.”
For Au, the unjustified attitude of CAEAL will end up raising small issues for Macau and at the international level.
Again accusing the CAEAL members of abusing their power, Au urged them to reverse and “return to normalcy” so they do not “create [unnecessary] chaos for the country.”
On the pro-establishment side many lawmakers also brought up the topic, expressing support for the decision of the CAEAL and accusing the disqualified candidates — namely those that are incumbent lawmakers — of attempting to clean up their record on activities that pro-establishment lawmakers consider disloyal towards Macau and the Basic Law.
Chan Hong, Ma Chi Seng, Chan Wa Keong, Iau Teng Pio, Fong Ka Chio, Pang Chun, Chan Chak Mo, and Chui Sai Peng were all signatories of spoken inquiries that expressed support of the disqualification of candidates to the elections.
The pro-establishment legislators expressed the idea that it is indisputable that CAEAL fulfills its functions following the law, and that their decision “represents the fulfillment, by the Macau SAR, of its constitutional duties and the implementation of the fundamental principle ‘Macau governed by patriots.’” They added that CAEAL acted “strictly following the law, with sufficient legal and factual grounds.”
Ma elaborated, saying that “the seven criteria on the defense, or not, of the Basic Law of Macau and loyalty to the Macau SAR, drawn up by CAEAL, are only for assessing the eligibility of all candidates. Since its establishment, the Macau SAR government has respected the various fundamental rights and freedoms of expression enjoyed by citizens under the law. The decision of the CAEAL is in no way a restriction on freedom of expression, nor does it affect Macau residents’ right to information about and oversight of the Macau government’s actions.”
Lawmaker Iau, who was appointed by the CE, went even further, saying “we all know that the qualification of some people for the elections was canceled because they practiced acts that are prohibited. Unfortunately, these people are trying very hard to avoid the issue. They started talking about what they did for the citizens, about their oversight of the government, freedom of expression, etc. This is simply diverting the public’s attention and exhausting the good faith of Macau citizens,” he said. He went to say, “These people have to provide clarity to society. They cannot continue to create confusion for our eyes and ears and divert the focus of attention.”
Further insight was provided by lawmaker Chan Chak Mo, who described and enumerated several activities organized and participated in by the disqualified candidates that, in his opinion, justify the CAEAL actions.
“Some people always say they are the biggest supporters of the ‘One country, two systems’ policy, but they publicly organize June 4 meetings, broadcasting false and misleading messages, and deliberately distort the Central government’s conclusive decision about the incident. Moreover, they undermine and attack, without the slightest concern, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, and shout for the end of a one-party system, which seriously tramples the limits of the ‘One country, two systems’ policy,” Chan concluded.

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