Legislative Assembly (AL) President Ho Iat Seng said Monday that there was no political motive behind the legislature’s decision not to renew the employment contracts of two of the legislature’s legal advisors.
Ho made the remarks during a briefing session with the media about the legislature’s work in the first year of the current legislative term, which ended on August 15. The legislature has its summer recess between the middle of August and the middle of October.
The current four-year term, which started on October 16 of last year, will end on August 15, 2021.
According to local Portuguese-language media reports published around the middle of last month, the four-member executive board of the legislature had recently decided not to renew the two advisors’ employment contracts, which are understood to expire at the end of the year. According to the reports, the executive board is in the process of planning the reorganisation of the legislature’s legal advisory section and consequently decided not to keep the two advisors.
Apart from Ho, the executive board – the legislature’s top management body – comprises the legislature’s Vice President Chui Sai Cheong, First Secretary Kou Hoi In and Second Secretary Chan Hong.
Following the publication of the media reports, three non-establishment lawmakers – Ng Kuok Cheong, Sulu Sou Ka Hou and José Maria Pereira Coutinho – said in a joint statement later last month that they were asking Ho why the two advisors’ employment contracts had not been renewed. In the statement, the three legislators claimed that they were “shocked” by the non-renewal of the two contracts. The statement described the two legal advisors’ imminent departure as a “great loss” to the legislature. The three lawmakers praised the duo for their “invaluable contribution” to the legislature.
The two legal advisors – Paulo Cardinal and Paulo Taipa – reportedly have worked for the legislature for 26 and 17 years respectively. Both are from Portugal.
During Monday’s briefing session, Ho said that the legislature always carries out its employment tasks – such as the hiring of staff and non-renewal of employment contracts – in adherence with the law regulating the operation of the Legislative Assembly. He said that the two legal advisors’ departure was merely part of “normal staff changes”. “This is not a major matter,” Ho said.
Ho, an indirectly elected lawmaker representing the city’s business sector, is the sole Macau member of the elite Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing.
Ho stressed that the legislature’s decision not to renew the two advisors’ employment contracts did not involve any political motive, adding that the non-renewal of the two contracts did not violate “the spirit of contract”.
Replying to questions from local Portuguese media outlets reporters, Ho stressed that the non-renewal of the two contracts was not due to the two advisors’ Portuguese nationality.
He said that local Portuguese media should not consider the non-renewal of the two contracts as something related to racial issues.
Ho said that the legislature “did not want to prevent them [the two legal advisors] from pursing” a better career development.
After local Portuguese media outlets’-journalists repeatedly asked questions on the matter, Ho said that if they continue to chose not to believe what he has said concerning the non-renewal of the two advisors’ employment contracts; they can go and ask the two legal advisors about the matter. He said that there was nothing more he could say if the media still did not believe what he has said.
Ho said that the legislature highly rates the two advisors’ work performance. He also said that the legislature makes employment decisions based on various factors, adding that the legislature does not decide to renew or not renew contracts of particular staff simply based on their performance.
According to The Macau Post Daily, Ho said that both the employers and employees can make their own decisions on the renewal of employment contracts.
During the briefing session the vice-president of the Legislative Assembly and brother of the present Chief Executive, Chui Sai Cheong, said that he will support the candidacy of Ho Iat Seng for the position of Chief Executive.
A new Chief Executive will be appointed in 2019 to run the Macao government from 20th December for a period of five years taking over from Chui Sai On that have been in that position for 10 years.
“I think the president (Ho Iat Seng) already meets all the conditions to be Chief Executive but that’s a decision that only he can take,” said Cheong.
Asked the same question, Ho excused himself from commenting further on the matter, noting that for the time being he is a lawmaker and president of the Legislative Assembly.
“Regarding this matter I need to state clearly that for the time being I’m still the president of the Legislative Assembly and I do not wish to create any confusion with this,” he said.