Secretary says separation of powers not part of Macau’s system

Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong

SECRETARY for Administration and Justice André Cheong has stressed that the political system in Macau focuses on mutual cooperation rather than the traditional separation of powers employed in Western democracy. His comments come on the heel of controversial remarks in neighboring Hong Kong, where the education authority has recently ordered textbook publishers to remove references to the concept in their liberal studies textbooks.
According to Cheong, Macau’s Basic Law stipulates that each of the branches of the executive, legislature and judiciary has its own scope of authority. In the last 20 years since the establishment of the SAR, the system has been operating in an effective and efficient manner, said the Secretary.
When asked how an independent judiciary can be guaranteed in Macau, the secretary cited the Basic Law and a series of other laws to prove that the courts have independent judicial powers and the Public Prosecutions Office has prosecution powers. As an act of independent judiciary, the executive branch will respect and implement the judgment made by the courts, said Cheong.
Cheong used recent land plot retrieval cases as an example. If there is a judicial appeal on the executive’s decision to reclaim land parcels, the court shall have the discretion to make a final judgment, he pointed out.
Cheong’s explanation aligns with the view of the national government, as well as his counterparts in Hong Kong.
Recently, the concept of “separation of powers” has been a topic of debate in Hong Kong. The debate was ignited when the city’s Secretary for Education, Kevin Yeung, announced that the Education Bureau in Hong Kong had ordered textbook publishers to delete references to the concept.
In addition, publishers were asked to emphasize legal consequences in the entry on “civil disobedience.” Some saw these acts as political censorship, which the education chief has denied.
Yeung explained that it is “a statement of facts” and that the concept of the separation of powers has never existed in Hong Kong.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam later said that the executive, legislative and judicial powers enjoyed by the HKSAR are not shared with, but are instead authorized by central authorities, adding that the chief executive is at the core of the executive-led framework.
The Hong Kong Basic Law, which is similar to Macau’s, stipulates that the SAR is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China and a local administrative region that enjoys a high degree of autonomy.
“[Hong Kong] is directly under the jurisdiction of the central government,” Lam said. She pointed out that a high degree of autonomy is not a full autonomy. The executive, legislative and judicial powers enjoyed by the HKSAR are granted by the central government.
Meanwhile, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has said that it supports Lam’s view, saying that the city’s political system does not enjoy a “separation of powers.”
The office’s spokesperson pointed out that “separation of powers” is usually a term reserved for sovereign states.
A SAR is not an independent political entity in Chinese political tradition, but a local administrative region where all of its power is derived from the central government.
China says its two SARs have not adopted a Western-style separation of powers. Instead, they have an executive-led, cooperative political system. AL/Agencies

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