The brolly brigade put on a show of strength

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2005, 12:00am

Yesterday's showers and strong winds failed to deter Macau's voters, who turned out in strength.

Although the No 3 typhoon signal was hoisted, Chiang Chaomeng, 72, travelled from Foshan to cast his vote yesterday.

'It's not a hassle at all,' said Mr Chiang as he left the polling station at Sacred Heart of Jesus College, saying he had voted for a grassroots representative.

'There are so many candidates competing this year, so I think every vote counts. But people are smart now, they won't vote for candidates who they think are bluffing their election platforms.'

Leong Chi-keng, 82, one of the earliest to arrive at the polls, said he had chosen candidates who he considered were trustworthy.

'I voted for group 14, they really fulfil their promises rather than giving empty talk. It's no use just reading their election platform, you have to see what they have done.'

Mr Chiang and Mr Leong were among more than 128,000 voters, or 58 per cent of the electorate, who cast their ballots.

Armed with umbrellas or sheltering under newspapers, hundreds of voters queued up outside the Keang Peng School polling station in northern district, where the highest number of voters live.

The number of registered voters increased by 38 per cent, or 60,840 people, compared to 2001.

Four years ago the total number of votes cast was 83,644. In comparison, this year's tight competition among the 18 lists of candidates might have helped convince many voters that they needed to turn out.

Although the turnout exceeded the 52 per cent recorded in 2001, pro-democracy candidate Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong was still disappointed, referring to the 64 per cent turnout recorded for the 1996 election.

A higher turnout could boost the chances of candidates who campaigned on limited budgets, Mr Ng said.