Kapok | (No) sense and sensibility

Eric Sautedé

The serialized “Sulu case”, full of twists and turns ever since the New Macau Association figurehead was rightfully elected via universal suffrage to the Legislative Assembly as the youngest ever legislator in Macao, just reached a new high when it comes to its most farcical — and yet saddening — dimensions.

Not only is Sulu Sou prosecuted for throwing paper planes in the empty garden of a purely ceremonial colonial villa and walking in the middle of a trafficless street — dura lex, sed lex; not only has he been suspended from his seat for such devious and criminal acts by his own peers in a highly controversial expedited process; moreover, he has to bear with a level of vicious absurdity rarely observed in our community since 1999!

And unfortunately, the ones who tarnish the very ideas of respect, responsibility and accountability in politics are to be found at the highest echelon of the administration! At the helm of the Assembly for sure — if Ho Iat Seng was ever considered as a possible replacement for Mr Chui, he should by now be disqualified — but also, indirectly, at the very top of the executive branch of power — who are Vong Hin Fai and Kou Hoi In taking their instructions from? After the deadly Hato disaster, the very least one could have expected is some kind of self-restraint and deference for the wishes of the majority.

By sponsoring a resolution project aiming at excluding the right to appeal of Sulu Sou before a court of law regarding claimed irregularities affecting the process that led to his suspension as lawmaker, Vong Hin Fai is not only sapping fundamental tenets of the separation of powers enshrined in the Basic Law, he is also using the law for vengeful private interests to cover his possible shortcomings while acting as secretary of the Committee of Rules and Mandates that ultimately defaulted on its obligation to make a recommendation regarding Mr Sou’s case.

The farcical move was immediately denounced by several prominent lawyers and former legislators, including the president of the Macao Lawyers’ Association, but all this seems even more dismaying when considering that Mr Vong is himself a lawyer, and that he was up to 2013 an appointed legislator as well as the candidacy representative of Chui Sai On both in 2009 and 2014. How can one not suspect some form of collusion of interests? And if so, how can this not be construed as an additional proof of downright disrespect for the independence of justice coming not only from a subservient legislature but also from the executive itself?

The same line of thinking goes for Mr Ho Iat Seng: how come the President of the Assembly would accept such a resolution without a doubt and why on earth would he decide to put it on the legislature’s agenda for voting within a week time? Lawmaker José Pereira Coutinho has already flagged this unusual haste in slating the resolution, especially when compared to akin motions sponsored by pan-democrats, but there again the issue goes beyond a not so “gentleman agreement”: Mr Ho is also a member of the standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress, and by blindly siding with Vong, he is actually staining the very idea of a “high degree of autonomy” for Macao. Could he have turned to his second in command — the Vice- president of the Assembly — for advice? And even if he did, can the brother of the Chief Executive be trusted to demonstrate an absolute sense of impartiality? Again, this can only reinforce suspicions of power meddling.

And by ultimately withdrawing the resolution, to supposedly clarify misunderstandings, what has Mr Vong demonstrated? Courage when confronted with adversity? A capacity to be attuned with the community he is supposed to represent? The wisdom of his craft now that he is a non-competitively elected professional lawmaker?

For all these reasons, and because it will take at least a year for Mr Sou to be actually tried for “aggravated disobedience”, Mr Vong should sponsor a resolution re-instating in full Mr Sou as a lawmaker! Eric Sautedé

Categories Opinion