Editorial | Invoking (democracy) in vain

Paulo Coutinho

Tuesday’s Legislative Assembly (AL) plenary session was an unprecedented and rather peculiar debate on democracy, Macau style.

The “reflection” was prompted by a gang of nine lawmakers who rounded on Sulu Sou on the grounds that he was “mischievous” and “abusive” and “disrespectful” of the House Rules among other offenses. All concerning his heated yet legitimate intervention last week proposing changes to legislation before the vote by the plenum.

José Pereira Coutinho, in a seminal letter to President Ho Iat Seng, complained about errant decisions by Ho himself regarding the House Rules and vehemently criticized his peers for the inappropriate gang-like attack against Sou.

Seven out of the nine were appointed to the assembly by the Chief Executive – the very executive they are mandated and paid to scrutinize. The other two were “indirectly-elected” by the most obscure vote of the AL elections, representing business interests.

Nothing would stop them from calling democracy into the “debate” in attacking Sou, who was elected by universal suffrage.

They called him “absolutist” and “arrogant.” In the course of this orchestrated rant against the ever-resistant lawmaker, they said “he wasn’t deserving” of being part of the “democratic party” [sic, from translations]. They may not know the House Rules – a “minor” thing for a member of the AL – but the gang of nine sure know nothing about Macau’s political system. There are no parties! But, hey, that is just a detail, right?!

My favorite nemesis (of Sulu) is Ma Chi Seng. Both born of the same generation, there is a whole galaxy of thought and action between them. While young Ma sounds like his grandfather, and is backwards in form and substance, Sou sounds like a proper young adult wanting to change the world.

Ma on democracy: “It is impossible to put democracy into practice just with slogans that ignore juridical facts.” To the appointed lawmaker I would say: it is impossible to put democracy into practice while we have appointed lawmakers that serve none other but the interests of the Chief Executive.

Summing it up – and this one is precious – one Kou Hoi In said that “the core of democracy is respecting others.” No, Mr Kou, that is the essence of civility. The core of democracy is “one person one vote” and the respect for the rule of the majority while giving room to minorities. A subtle note: we do not have that in Macau. There is no democracy in Macau and according to you, the oligarchs and the other cronies, there never will be.

Unlike Sou and the other outstanding advocates of full democracy, like Pereira Coutinho, none of the nine lawmakers have ever said or done anything to improve the electoral system toward a democratic AL, as is postulated in the Basic Law.

So, do us all a favor and do not invoke the name of democracy in vain. It is blasphemy.

Categories Editorial Macau