The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, has in its latest annual report on Macau called for the authorities there to involve the local population more in the choice of the region’s chief executive, even though Macau’s Basic Law does not provide for the introduction of universal suffrage.
“Macau differs from Hong Kong in that its Basic Law and other legislation does not contemplate the possibility of universal suffrage,” the commission’s report on 2014 starts by noting. “However, the authorities should consider fostering a greater degree of involvement of the population in the election of the chief executive, so increasing the legitimacy and public support for the post and reinforcing good governance.”
The commission states that “the fundamental freedoms and rights of citizens continued to be respected” last year. In addition, it noted, “positive steps were taken to improve the situation of migrant workers, as well as in combatting domestic violence and people trafficking”.
However, while Macau’s media continue to reflect a range of opinions, “freedom of the press is at risk” due to factors such as self-censorship or the denial of access to news conferences. In this connection, the report cites cases of journalists from Hong Kong having been prevented from working in Macau, as well as instances cited in a report by the International Federation of Journalists released in January.
In addition, the commission alleges that academic freedom has been brought into question by a decision not to renew the contracts of two professors at the University of Macau and the University of São José.
Among its priorities for 2015, the commission listed cooperation with a view to the diversification of Macau’s economy away from its current heavy reliance on the casino sector. (macaunews)