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    » 07/27/2009, 00.00

    MACAU – CHINA

    Unopposed candidate elected as Macau’s new chief executive



    Voting for top post is restricted to a 300-member election committee hand-picked by Chinese authorities. A few demonstrators call for democratic reform, but there are no hopes before 2019. Corruption and social needs are the city’s top problems.
    Macau (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The unopposed election of Fernando Chui Sai-on as Macau's chief executive left most residents of this former Portuguese colony indifferent. Many wonder however how he will deal with the city’s main problems, like widespread corruption and residents’ social needs.

    The Macau Daily News, the biggest local newspaper, declared Dr Chui's victory on its front page before the vote began yesterday morning, with the headline—“Breaking News: Chui Sai-on is New Chief Executive"—raising only a few eyebrows.

    The vote count was televised and confirmed the candidate’s landslide victory. Only the occasional mention of an unmarked ballot paper stirred a small ripple of interest.

    Chui received 282 votes from the 300-member Election Committee, compared with the 286 nominations he garnered last month from the small circle of electors.  One of 297 members who showed up to vote at the Macau Dome stadium withheld his ballot in protest against a lack of democracy; the other 14 members cast blank ballots.

    In the chief executive poll in 2004, Edmund Ho Hau-wah, the sole candidate, won 296 votes from the 300 Election Committee members.

    Under Macau election law a 300-member election committee picks the chief executive. The committee itself is selected by Chinese authorities on the basis of a number of criteria rather than popularly elected.

    For most Macau residents there is only indifference towards a process most find unjust because it allows 300 people to decide who governs the city of 500,000 people.

    But Chief Executive-elect Chui defended his victory as legitimate. He tried to reassure the 14 voters who cast empty ballots that he intended to gain their confidence and that of the population.

    Shortly after the vote, a few scores of people led by pro-democracy legislators Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong and Au Kam-san rallied at the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral, calling for universal suffrage for Macau in 2019.

    “To stamp out corruption, we must fight for democracy,” Mr Ng said

    Indeed city residents are still reeling after Ao Man-long, a former secretary for transport and public works, was sentenced to 28 and half years in April on 81 counts of bribe taking and other crimes involving hundreds of millions of patacas (hundreds of thousands of dollars)

    For many analysts the Ao graft scandal exposed major flaws in the city’s system of government.

    Residents want Chui to ensure that the administration will be more transparent and under better supervision.  But few expect any major structural change.

    On democratic reform Chui’s election platform had only general promises without deadlines.

    In the meantime he will be called to deal with important social and economic problems, especially in health care, housing and real estate, issues only superficially addressed in his campaign platform.

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    See also

    20/12/2004 CHINA – MACAU
    Macau, the rise of Asia's 'Las Vegas'
    Gambling in former Portuguese colony is a US$ 5 billion industry. Chinese authorities praise development in accordance with the 'one-country, two-system' model, but are silent about prostitution and unemployment problems.

    01/09/2014 MACAU - CHINA
    Macau's Fernando Chui re-elected uncontested, without popular vote
    The chief executive won a new mandate with 96 per cent of the vote, cast by a group of 400 people chosen by Beijing. After the election, he refused to comment on the landslide victory, thanked his supporters "for the chance to serve the Macau public". Pro-democracy activists call on the "government to [. . .] launch political reform".

    16/12/2009 MACAU
    Protest and prayers on the 10th anniversary of Macau’s return to China
    On 20 December, Macau’s bishop will call for prayers for the territory, a former Portuguese colony. The new Chief Executive Chui Sai-on will be sworn in before President Hu Jintao. On the same day, a civic group led by two Catholic legislators will launch a march for democracy and against corruption.

    25/08/2014 MACAU - CHINA
    Democracy referendum halted as police detains five activists
    For police, which shut down polling stations within hours of their opening, collecting personal opinions is illegal. The next chief executive is set to be elected this Sunday by 400 electors. For China, the referendum calling for universal suffrage in the choice of chief executive is illegal.

    23/07/2014 MACAU - CHINA
    Beijing's censorship and Macau universities
    Lecturers are fired because they express pro-democracy views or mention the horror of Mao's reign. The politburo and the principle of "one country, two systems" are off-limits on university campuses.



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