Policy Address | Cheong: Gov’t ‘highly concerned’ about accountability, democracy

Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong has affirmed that the Macau SAR government places great importance upon democracy and the accountability of high-ranking officials.
During yesterday’s Legislative Assembly (AL) plenary meeting, lawmaker Sulu Sou asked questions related to the aforementioned two topics.
The lawmaker said that the SAR government did not mention democracy and political reform in the 2021 Policy Address.
“I don’t know if you have read it. Regarding the development of democracy, there is not a single word. [The former Chief Executive] Chui Sai On would still make a show and mention ‘the stable development of democratic politics.’ But the two policy addresses of this government have not mentioned democracy,” said Sou. The lawmaker asked whether the government is paying attention to democratic politics.
Lawmaker Fong Ka Chio also asked about political reform.
In response to the lawmakers, Cheong acknowledged that for the government to “not mention it does not mean does not care about it and it does not mean that [democracy] is not important.”
“The development of politics requires specific timing and social groundwork. As to how to develop Macau’s politics, we need to start from Macau’s actual situation,” Cheong said.
Cheong aims for the government to set a good example by “loving the country, loving Macau,” and exhibiting understanding of the Basic Law as well as the constitution.
Meanwhile, other concerns were related to high-ranking officials’ accountability.
Lawmaker Sou claimed that since the establishment of the Macau SAR, high-ranking officials have not been made accountable for their mistakes.
In reply, Secretary Cheong said that the government “regards [the mechanism for ensuring] high-ranking officials’ accountability highly,” acknowledging that the mechanism is not perfect.
In Cheong’s opinion, “The most effective way to hold high-ranking officials [to account] is through criminal accountability.”
The Secretary remarked that, currently, Macau has a high bar to which it holds high-ranking officials accountable criminally, and that some officials are unable to be held accountable because they have already retired when an investigation takes place.
The SAR government is expected to make a proposal concerning the high-ranking officials’ accountability mechanism later.
“The issue cannot be solved through disciplinary punishment, nor criminal punishment. [Macau] needs to establish a friendly and healthy high-ranking official culture,” Cheong commented.
After Cheong’s reply, lawmaker Au Kam San remarked that “If the policy address didn’t mention [democracy and high-ranking officials’ accountability], then the topics are not important [to the government].”

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