09/01/2014, 00.00
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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".

Macau (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Macau's Election Committee, which is made up pro-Beijing elites and politicians, re-elected as Fernando Chui Sai-on as the chief executive of the former Portuguese overseas province. Chui received 380 out of 396 or 96% support.

A record 16 blank or invalid votes were the only drawback, a token of popular opposition to this election, which went uncontested and without popular participation.

As a form of protest against the current situation, an unofficial referendum had been held on universal suffrage for the next election in 2019. After a few hours though, police closed the polling stations where people could vote.

Unlike Hong Kong's Basic Law, Macau's constitution makes no direct provision for universal suffrage as a goal, but calls for democracy have been growing.

Chui chose not comment his re-election result. "The statistics are out now, but I will not comment on it," he said. "I am thankful . . .  for the chance to serve the Macau public."

In reality, the chief executive is viewed more a defender of business interests than of the general public.

His family runs a small empire (founded by his father Tak-seng) whose interests range from construction and real estate to import-export and the pharmaceutical industry.

The Chuis "are seen as a very strong and stabilising force in the community. So there won't be any type of political struggle," said veteran Macau political commentator Larry So Man-yum.

By contrast, for Bill Chou Kwok-ping, a core referendum campaigner with the New Macau Association, "It is time for the government to face up to reality and launch political reform".

Fellow activist Sulu Sou Ka-hou agrees. "The less sincere the government is about political reform, the likelier it is for political activism to grow."

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