The Case II | Cardinal and Taipa: a ‘dismissal in disguise’

One of the cases that marred the year was the dismissal of veteran legal advisers Paulo Cardinal and Paulo Taipa. In August, the board of the Legislative Assembly (AL) headed by President Ho Iat Seng decided not to renew the advisers’ contracts, alluding to a probable renovation of the legal team.

The announcement that swiftly caused a generalized sense of incredulity and shock in the community, made the headlines for weeks, garnering concern from all walks of society, with the legal fraternity showing profound disagreement.

Many of the personalities who commented or wrote on the topic described the two legal advisors as men of character and strong work ethics.

For lawyer Sérgio de Almeida Correia they are “living encyclopedias on the historical and legislative developments over the last three decades of Macau.”

Top lawyer Jorge Neto Valente noted that in the context of an eventual renovation of the AL’s legal team, Paulo Cardinal and Paulo Taipa “should always have a place.”

After the news of the dismissal letter went public, several AL lawmakers aired their concerns. Some publicly questioned the decision. Pereira Coutinho, Ng Kuok Cheong and Sulu Sou together penned a letter to the board of the AL asking for explanations for the short and laconic letter, which besides noting “extreme gratitude for the exceptional contribution” that the advisers had given to the AL, did not state any concrete and formal reasons for the contract termination.

To the many queries from different community groups, the President of the Legislative Assembly, Ho Iat Seng, said at a later stage, that the dismissal of the two AL legal advisers, was not for political reasons, nor due to the advisers’ ethnicity, but instead “to allow them to pursue other careers,” in what was seen as a mockery by many.

Closing the case, Ho issued a letter of reply to the lawmakers stating that he had “nothing further to explain.”

The contracts of Paulo Cardinal and Paulo Taipa expire today.

Sulu Sou recalled the case during the last days of the legislative session to classify the non-renewal of the advisers as a “dismissal in disguise,” and evoked former lawmaker Leonel Alves:

“The two advisors are and will be indispensable elements for maintaining the quality of the legislative work of the Legislative Assembly. Nobody can understand which [reason] of public interest is so relevant that does not allow the renewal of their contracts. Discretionary power should not be confused with arbitrary power.”

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