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  • Oct 23, 2014
  • Updated: 7:36pm

Macau

Macau, a former Portuguese colony, made US$38 billion (HK$294.9 billion) in gambling revenues in 2012. It is the only place where people can legally gamble at casinos in China.

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MACAU

Macau unofficial democracy poll halted as police detain five activists

Five activists detained over Occupy-style campaign pushing for greater democracy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 August, 2014, 11:32am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 August, 2014, 10:48am
 

Two leaders of an unofficial "referendum" on Macau's chief executive election and three other activists were detained yesterday as police shut down polling stations.

Officers raided all five referendum polling stations within hours of the launch of the seven-day ballot, which asked locals if they had confidence in Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on and wanted universal suffrage at the next election.

The detained included Scott Chiang Meng-hin, a key member of the New Macau Association, the most prominent democratic group in the former Portuguese enclave. Also detained was Jason Chao Teng-hei - leader of Open Macau Society, co-organisers of the poll with Macau Conscience and Macau Youth Dynamics.

Pundits and pan-democrats lambasted Chui - who is standing unopposed for a second five-year term - for disregarding the city's freedom of expression under the Basic Law, ahead of his guaranteed victory next Sunday. Only 400 people are eligible to vote in the election.

Yang Chongwei, deputy coordinator of the Office for Personal Data Protection, said: "It is inherently illegitimate for personal information to be collected and handled for the purpose of the so-called civil referendum."

The authorities were targeting only "the relevant body", and as for individuals, it was a "personal choice" to submit personal information to any groups, Yang said at a rare joint press conference with the police.

All five activists were later released.  

Watch: Macau unofficial referendum organiser: Hong Kong and Macau should join forces for democracy

Chui repeated his stance yesterday that the activists' poll "does not comply with the Basic Law". Beijing has also denounced the poll as illegal.

Activists rejected the claims by Chui and Yang, and accused Chui of being "afraid" to learn the results of the referendum.

Bill Chou Kwok-ping, vice-president of the New Macau Association, said: "We collect such data upon the consent of the people we poll.

"The crackdown was unexpectedly high-handed. It perfectly illustrates how much [Beijing's] liaison office fears an awakening of the typically apolitical Macau public."

In the unprecedented ballot, similar to Occupy Central's June poll in Hong Kong, five booths across the city opened at 11am, but they were stormed by police, one by one. All the booths had to shut by 1.30pm, eight hours before the scheduled closing time.

Over 4,200 had voted by midnight. Organisers advised people to cast their ballots online before polling closed on Saturday.

Cat Sin, a housewife in her 40s, said: "I'm voting because Chui has done little to lower housing prices for the next generation."

A woman in her 70s did not vote but was displeased with the state of affairs. "The election of the chief executive is supposed to be a big thing," she said. "But nobody is really quite a part of it."

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This article is now closed to comments

likingming
The western democratic countries would have a lot to learn from China.
LunarRepublic
China certainly provides a lesson on how NOT to run a country, I'll give you that.
sunnymedina
Correct, China sets the example on how NOT to run a country. Clamping down on the freedom of speech and the right to vote is not the way forward.
Paradox314
Anyone can learn from any situation or any other party. What in particular do you feel democratic states can learn from China?
chaz_hen
Learn to hire an army of young, single, pathetic men to troll the internet and stir up nationalist claptrap at .05 mao per comment???
likingming
****user.qzone.qq.com/908961321
ejmciii
Tyrants cannot stand when people question them. It is a sad thing, probably having to do with being a little bit less of a man downstairs. But the tyrants are being challenged on a daily basis and bringing the tanks in is no longer going to be acceptable. Watch the Mainland economy collapse when Beijing seeks to use force to bring HK and Macau to heel. And once the economy falls they will have nothing but force to perpetuate their rule. So, a helpful hint, comrades, try to work with these groups to deal with their simple, day to day issues, and defuse the major issue of being vassal states of the Communist Dynasty. How was Marx's view of immediate revolution undercut? Bismark began a welfare state to provide a basic safety net and cut the balls off of Marx/Engels' call for immediate revolution. Knowledge is good, even for Chinese tools.
Paradox314
If it weren't for the active pro-democracy campaign this would be happening in HK. Never misjudge the Beijing agenda - this is what they really want to do in HK too - it's their nature.
jenny@asian-emphasis.com
I think that Beijing would like HK to be more like Macau. Basic Law is very similar except it doesn't mention the "ultimate aim" being universal suffrage!
chaz_hen
At first the Macau people were so sheep-like and went like lambs to the abattoir, which were their lowly jobs in the fresh new casinos popping up everywhere. No reason to complain...at least their economy was roaring along and people were employed.
Then came the corruption allegations against their "leaders" and throngs of outside workers taking jobs from the locals in addition to skyrocketing housing prices (along with familiar mobs of mainland tourists and "gamers").
Cracks are forming among the sheeple of Macau and they're thinking maybe they'd like to have more of a say in their lives...

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