Sunday, August 25, 2019

Voters In Macau, Hong Kong’s Neighbor, Peacefully Elect A New Chief Executive

On August 25, 2019, Macau’s Election Committee, the territory’s 400 official voters, almost unanimously (392 or 98%) elected Ho Iat-seng, former president of Macau’s Legislative Assembly, as Chief Executive.  Ho was the only candidate.

Bizarre? Democracy with Macau Characteristics!

The Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) of the People’s Republic of China was a former Portuguese Overseas Territory (first visited by the Portuguese in 1517).  Portugal transferred sovereignty to China on December 20, 1999, about two-and-a-half years after Britain returned Hong Kong to China.

China’s National People’s Congress enacted a Basic Law (mini-constitution) for Macau similar to that of Hong Kong.  It specified the procedure for choosing the Chief Executive, differing from Hong Kong in that residents of Macao were never promised universal suffrage of one man, one vote.

The election process of Chief Executive is as follows.  An Electoral Affairs Commission sends a notice to “legal-person” voters to register their interest in the process (by April 23, 2019, for the 2019 election).  A legal-person voter is a registered association with voting power for the Chief Executive Election Committee.  The representative chosen by each legal-person voter is then authorized to nominate candidates for the 400-member Chief Executive Election Committee.  The Election Committee represents four sectors:  (1) industrial, commercial, and financial; (2) cultural, educational, and professional; (3) sports; and (4) labor, social services, and religion.

There are 5,375 eligible legal person voters.   (Each registered association gets one vote.  I have been unable to find the list of registered associations on the Internet.).  When the polls closed on June 16, 2019, 5,001 legal voters (82.7%) cast their vote for persons to serve on the Election Committee.  Of the 350 candidates nominated by legal voters, 344 were selected:  88 from labor and education, 120 from commerce and finance, 26 from culture, 42 professionals, 17 from sports, and 50 from social services.  Six were rejected.  The remaining 56 (normally 50) were representatives of the National People’s Congress, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference delegates, and local departments and organizations.  The Basic Law stipulates that a person must obtain at least 66 nominations from the 400-member Committee to be accepted as a candidate for Chief Executive.

As of mid-June 2019, three persons indicated they might run for the job.  In mid-August Ho Iat-seng formally announced that he was a candidate for Chief Executive.  The other two, who previously indicated interest, did not declare their candidacy.  Ho was the sole candidate.

China was pleased with the outcome of this process.  People’s Daily praised the excellence of Macau residents, suggesting that Hong Kong people should learn from Macau.

Ho will be sworn in on December 20, 2019, the twentieth anniversary of Portugal’s transfer of sovereignty of Macau to China.

PS.  Macau does not have an extradition law.  Unlike Carrie Lam in Hong Kong, as of this writing, incoming Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng has not raised the idea of an extradition law.

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