Editorial | I vote CAEAL

Paulo Coutinho

“Prognostics? Only after the game.”

(João Pinto, Portuguese footballer)

The Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEAL) added another dumb rule on Wednesday to the cascade of nonsensical others. Judge Tong Hio Fong said that election teams are required to take down – by zero hour Saturday – all campaigning material, including that posted on the Internet. The instruction concerns the official campaign period – running from September 2 until today.

Apparently, the charismatic slash controversial slash innovative judge’s judgement falls under an Electoral Law ruling that determines a 24-hour period of reflection on the eve of the vote. In no civilized country has this awkward rule ever been applied – to my knowledge. I sense here that the “creative industries” state of mind over this town kind of impels people to be creative, no matter how ridiculous their ideas are.

However, in the case of Mr Tong there is no naivety involved. His ideas and interpretations of the law are also dangerous, they violate fundamental legislation and, therefore, pervert people’s perception of the rule of law. The recent order to Plataforma bilingual newspaper to remove an interview with a candidate from its website, confusing propaganda with information, clearly violates a fundamental right, the freedom of the press. (The case is now with the courts.)

The new rules heavily enforced by CAEAL’s president also make the production of surveys, polls and predictions of the results – the informative and vibrant exercises of any living election – illegal. And he succeeded. Just yesterday, Jason Chao told the Times he won’t make any predictions as he has done before. Actually, he will do it, but he won’t share it: “It is not safe to share my prediction, because it is not allowed, under the electoral rules, to conduct or share a survey.”

CAEAL has made a name for itself and the first on the “list” became quite the champion of this campaign – no one did better (worse), had more exposure, air time, print space, and money than Mr Tong. So I’m hereby declaring my vote goes to him, as a symbol, with its teeth out, of this discredited, inefficient and twisted system of ours. With his evil works, Judge Tong favoured my forever list of choice which is the “Abstention Party”, a true winner in the past and – I predict – a bigger winner on Sunday.

People, especially the young, are either as distant from politics as Mars from Earth, they couldn’t care less about the election or they are so politically awakened that they want to send a clear signal to the rulers by not participating in this masquerade of democracy.

I also don’t believe in a change from within, although I admire those who do and have the strength to dream the impossible dream. The likes of Pereira Coutinho, Agnes Lam, and the pro-democrats, veteran Ng Kuok Cheong and young Sulu Sou. The rubber stamp legislators serve no more the crucial needs of the checks and the balances of this little-big town.

The winner in the universal suffrage election? Chan Meng Kam sponsored lists will rise to the “impossible” four seats. It’s just a feeling – not a prediction, dear leader.

Categories Editorial Macau