Rear Window | Ho by himself

Severo Portela

Now it is for real and definitive that political heavyweight Ho Iat Seng is running solo, unopposed and undisturbed, up the for confirmatory procedure of the small-circle selection committee. Of the alleged pretenders, no-one dared to make a move for the top job, or rather, nobody received the necessary encouragement or central government blessing to challenge Ho as the replacement for the two-termer Chui Sai On as MSAR Chief Executive.

We have largely backed a competitive run to Government House in 2019 and for a candidate whose profile would be different from Ho Iat Seng. Both points remain valid, despite that ultimate factor we call reality. We do have to confess to be at ease with a deferment period, precisely because we have not taken the issue either to make predictions of sorts or as a foray into pseudo-forecasting: to make as many forecasts as possible and proclaim the one you got right. Today, however, everybody is right… Ho Iat Seng will be the next CE and gradually all reservations will fade away.

However, the democratic stain (no offense meant) of a non-binding electoral option of a single candidate remains a harsh, if not crass disregard for the noble essence of elections – to be able to choose: a minimum service to democracy.

Even the 2018 EU annual report – received by MSAR stamped with the label of interference – although it considers the Basic Law, and related legislation, it does not provide for the introduction of universal suffrage, saying it “encourages the Macao authorities to provide for greater public involvement in the election of the CE and the Legislative Assembly. This would increase their legitimacy….”

It is hard to believe that this encouragement, in the report to the European Parliament, suggests the SAR gradually expands the now 400-strong committee to broaden its endorsement. The inflated committee is not the one to choose, let alone elect. It just rubberstamps a solo candidate.

Putting to one side issues around the meddling or legitimacy of the report, we ought to admit that it does not rank with the US State Department paper, usually deeply critical of the shortcomings of Macau. On the contrary, the EU reading is loosely positive: The rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are upheld, as seen in the case of the judicial procedures against the opposition lawmaker Sulu Sou. Rights and fundamental freedoms are generally respected.” If this is not accurate who do you call?

As to the profile that Ho´s virtual contender should have to give Macau people represented by the small-circle committee a sound alternative, we just need to reflect on Lionel Leong’s talking points about Macau and the Greater Bay Area and compare it to Ho Iat Seng’s insights to date.

Building the Greater Bay Area could be an innovative testing ground, and an innovative community project, combining international standards and international rules with China´s efficiency and advantages of speed.” Lionel goes further, envisaging a Macau facing a new pattern of regional cooperation and development for a “new era,” seizing the range of opportunities made available by the initiative to achieve a moderate level of economic diversification. Indeed, Macau came a long way from CEPA to GBA.

Finally, a note on range, broad range, and the Macau media: as viewed by the European Union, the media continues to express a broad range of views despite concerns of self-censorship, especially in the Chinese language news. A Steven Pinker point comes to mind: “Adding to the gloom is the ethos of journalism, in which reporting failure is considered professional duty, […] reporting success is considered public relations.”

Categories Opinion