The Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEAL) announced yesterday that 128 candidates fielded by 14 direct-election Lists for the 12 September elections have been accepted.
The number of candidates was reduced after the commission rejected three Lists, all of whose candidates were disqualified for allegedly failing to support the Macao Basic Law or having been disloyal to the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR). The commission also rejected two Lists which did not have enough candidates – the minimum requirement is four – after some of their candidates were disqualified.
On Wednesday last week, the commission announced the preliminary acceptance of 159 candidates from 19 Lists vying for the legislature’s 14 directly-elected seats.
On Friday, the commission announced that it had decided to disqualify 21 candidates from six direct-election Lists for “failing to support the Basic Law or having been disloyal to the MSAR”.
The commission said that even though all 159 candidates fielded by 19 direct-election Lists had formally declared their support for the Basic Law and their loyalty to the MSAR when they submitted their candidacies over the past few weeks, the commission’s qualification review process, based on evidence provided by the Secretariat for Security, discovered that the 21 candidates had failed to respect the Basic Law or had been disloyal to the MSAR.
According to the Legislative Assembly Election Law, those who refuse to declare that they uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the MSAR are ineligible to be a candidate. Residents are also ineligible to run in the elections if “facts have proved” that they do not uphold the Basic Law or are disloyal to the MSAR.
Legislative election candidates must sign a declaration confirming that they uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the MSAR.
The commission also announced last Friday that two other candidates from another List were disqualified for not being registered voters.
The 21 disqualified candidates include all 15 candidates of three Lists from the “pro-democracy” or “non-establishment” camp, which were headed by high-profile political activist Chiang Meng Hin, incumbent legislator Sulu Sou Ka Kou and former lawmaker Paul Chan Wai Chi respectively.
The other six disqualified candidates comprise two candidates from the Gaming New Macao List headed by gaming staff unionist Cloee Chao Sao Fong, two candidates from the Ou Mun Kong I (“Macao Righteousness”) List headed by veteran labour rights activist Lee Sio Kuan, and two candidates from the Macao Victory List.
Some of the disqualified candidates from the three “pro-democracy” Lists, as well as the two disqualified candidates from the Gaming New Macao List and the two disqualified candidates from the Ou Mun Kong I List went to the commission’s office on Monday (the deadline for the Lists to replace disqualified candidates), where they insisted that they had not failed to support the Basic Law and had not been disloyal to the MSAR and consequently would not replace their candidates.
Representatives of the Macao Victory List also went to the commission’s office on Monday, but they declined to confirm their position.
The commission said it adhered to its decision of disqualifying all 15 candidates from the three “pro-democracy” Lists, namely the Democratic Prosperous Macao Association, of which Chiang and incumbent lawmaker Ng Kuok Cheong were the number-one and number-two candidates; the New Macao Progressives headed by Sou; and the New Macao Progressive Association headed by Paul Chan.
The commission has also decided to stick to its decision of disqualifying the number-one and number-two candidates of the Gaming New Macao List – Cloee Chao and Lei Man Chao. As the List had less than four candidates after Chao and Lei had been disqualified, the commission rejected the whole List.
The Gaming New Macao List had fielded eight candidates. Cloee Chao said that her List had less than four candidates after she and Lei were disqualified because some candidates had quit due to “pressure by someone”.
The commission said yesterday evening that it had initially disqualified 21 candidates for failing to support the Basic Law or having been disloyal to the MSAR, but the number of disqualified candidates has now been reduced to 20 because one of the six electoral Lists affected by the individual disqualifications had requested to be allowed to replace a disqualified candidate.
The commission disqualified the number-one candidate of the Macao Victory List, Lo Chun Seng. As the List had less than four candidates after Lo was disqualified, the commission rejected the whole List.
The commission has decided to adhere to its decision of disqualifying the first-ranked and second-ranked candidates of the Ou Mun Kong I List – Lee and Kuong Kai Nang. As the List now has four candidates after Lee and Kuong were disqualified, the commission has accepted it.
The Basic Law Promotion Alliance direct-election List, which had initially fielded six candidates, has confirmed that two of its candidates were disqualified for not being registered voters.
The Basic Law Promotion Alliance List has only replaced one of the two disqualified candidates, so the List now has five candidates.
The Macao-Guangdong Union List, which is headed by incumbent lawmaker Zheng Anting, now has one less candidate than when the commission announced the preliminary acceptance of 159 candidates on Wednesday last week, so the List now has 11 candidates.
All disqualified candidates have the right to lodge their objection to the commission’s decision by next Monday. If – as expected – the commission rejects the objections, the disqualified candidates can still appeal to the Court of Final Appeal until 27 July. Macao’s top court’s ruling on the appeals must be announced no later than 2 August.
Many of the disqualified candidates have said that they intended to appeal the commission’s decision, The Macau Post Daily reported.
Four years ago there were 186 candidates fielded by 24 lists who finally ran in the direct election. One list with five candidates had withdrawn before polling day.