Project Just Macau, a platform initiated by activist Jason Chao to monitor election fairness in the territory, has reportedly received three complaints concerning claims of pressing employees to sign a nomination form.
The three complaints concern two local schools allegedly pressuring teachers to sign a nomination form, Chao revealed to the press yesterday during the “Webinar on Election Monitoring.”
The activist stated that signing the nomination form shows the signee’s consent to be a part of a candidature committee. Thus, membership of a candidature committee is a form of political affiliation.
“In Macau, most citizens are unaware of the significance of putting your name on a nomination form,” he argued.
The alleged instances of soft coercion reportedly occurred in school settings.
According to Chao, the three complainants reported two incidents: middle-level management asked teachers to sign a form before them and forms with some other names were distributed.
“It must be noted that running schools in Macau is unlike running a private business. The industry is regulated and paid, either partially or entirely, by the government,” the activist said.
The complaints were received via Telegram, a messaging app. Although WeChat is more widely used in Macau, the activist refused to use the app due to the Central Government’s censorship, recalling that the New Macau Association’s account on WeChat was deleted.
“Workers who are effectively on the government’s payroll may be ‘asked’ by superiors to serve the organizations’ political goals and intertwined interests,” he explained.
“It is a historical issue that there are no clear lines between political organizations, charities, social service providers, fraternal groups and school operators,” Chao continued.
Project Just Macau is calling on the Education and Youth Bureau (DSEJ), the Social Work Bureau (IAS), the Election Affairs Commission (CAEAL) and other relevant authorities to send a clear message to all recipients of public subsidies, reminding them that it is an unlawful abuse of power to solicit political affiliation from employees who are engaged in employment relationships supported by public funds.
Chao will present a statement to various government departments regarding the complaints the group received.
He threatened that if no departments were willing to address the matter, he might disclose the contents of the complaints and name the schools involved.
When asked how long he would wait for the authorities’ replies, Chao responded, “It’s a strategy and I’m not disclosing it for the time being.”
As Project Just Macau aims to be a platform for whistleblowers, the activist hoped that there would be regulations to protect whistleblowers from retaliation, citing analogous protection laws for whistleblowers in the United States.
Chao hoped that Macau would enact a similar system, in which a whistleblower who files complaints to the judicial system will be compensated if allegations are substantiated.
“This is a system which I think is quite good to encourage whistleblowing by providing incentives and rewards,” he added.
Meanwhile Chao refused to reveal the members of the platform he is leading for the sake of security.
Project Just Macau will disclose “almost everything” at the end of the project including complaints submitted before the election.