• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 1:46am
NewsHong Kong

Beijing blasts Macau's planned Occupy-style referendum as 'invalid and unconstitutional'

Beijing says administrative region has no legal authority to hold referendum, which comes in the wake of political controversy in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 3:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 4:13pm

The mainland has dismissed as meaningless a proposed referendum on democracy in its southern gambling hub of Macau, a poll that would follow in the footsteps of a similar informal vote in nearby Hong Kong.

Three activist groups said on Monday they would stage a referendum among Macau's 600,000 residents to coincide with the widely expected re-election by a local council of local leader Fernando Chui in August.

Beijing denounced the June poll in Hong Kong, underscored by a march by hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the right to freely elect their local leader in 2017. Five student leaders were arrested after a later sit-in.

The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, followed two years later by the Portuguese-run enclave of Macau, now the world's biggest gambling centre. Both enjoy wide-ranging autonomy and free speech not permitted on the mainland.

“An administrative region has no authority to establish a system of referendum or organise any activity relating to a referendum,” the mainland's Liaison Office, which oversees affairs in Macau, said in a statement posted on local media websites.

READ: Occupy-style public vote on universal suffrage to be held in Macau

The statement, issued on Tuesday, said the office supported the position of Macau authorities, who are subservient to Beijing.

An official body of 400 elects Macau's leader, similar to Hong Kong where a small committee of largely pro-Beijing loyalists chooses who gets on the ballot, effectively rendering the ability to vote meaningless.

Macau's government earlier said the referendum “had no constitutional legal basis, does not have any legal basis, is illegal and invalid”.

Residents of Macau, home to 35 casinos and the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, adopted a passive attitude to politics during years of rapid economic growth.

But over the past year, soaring inequality and deteriorating quality of life sparked an unprecedented 20,000-strong rally to denounce a bill providing lavish perks for senior civil servants. The legislation was withdrawn.

Mainland authorities, who consistently crack down on dissent on the mainland, reasserted their authority over Hong Kong in a white paper issued before the vote there, a move that triggered fears of future intervention.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Marcus T Anthony
I have to admit, I never thought the Macau folks had it in them. But let's face it. If HKers have something to complain about in terms of the streets being overrun with tourists and money being channeled into the hands of the rich, powerful and corrupt, the people Macau have it a thousand times worse.
Once again the SCMP repeats the ridiculous nonsenseical statement that every person knows is not true: "The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997". If Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule it would have had to have been under Chinese rule in the firs place. The P.R. China was established in 1949, over a hundred years after Hong Kong was established. Isn't that why it is referred to as the Handover?
sudo rm -f cy
Full support to the people of Macau!
Memo to the Masters: It is not illegal to have a private poll of what people within an SAR think. The resultant aim might be but the poll is not. You look like 14 year old girls whining about something you dislike. Just saying.
Not sure what you are getting at but it is pretty much an absurd statement you are making. HK was under Chinese rule before the Brits bought/leased it. The PRC is merely another dynasty of chinese emperors. The Brits got it from the Manchus and gave it to the communists. Seems pretty straightforward.


SCMP.com Account