A record number of almost 200,000 residents turned out to vote in the direct 2017 legislative elections.
Candidates this year ranged from a 20-year-old college student to a 79-year-old veteran lawmaker, reflecting a broad interest in political engagement.
Sulu Sou Ka Hou, 26, won his second bid, becoming Macao’s youngest lawmaker ever. Sou, who heads the New Macau Progressives (ANPM) group, was the second-ranked candidate of veteran legislator Au Kam San’s group in his previous bid four years ago.
Agnes Lam Iok Fong, 45, won election this year after two unsuccessful bids for the legislature. Lam, who heads the Civic Watch electoral group, is assistant dean of the University of Macau’s (UM) Faculty of Social Sciences.
Leong Sun Iok, 39, joins the legislature as the second-ranked candidate of the electoral vehicle of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions’ Union for Development (UPD). Leong is vicE-president of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions.
Leong Veng Chai, a retired public servant, and the second-ranked candidate of New Hope (NE) failed in his re-election bid, as did Melinda Chan Mei Yi, wife of businessman and former lawmaker David Chow Kam Fai, and the first-ranked candidate of the Alliance for Change (MUDAR).
Two dozen groups fielded a total of 186 candidates for the 14 directly elected seats available for grabs. The Macau-Guangdong Union (UMG), headed by businessmen Mak Soi Kun and Zheng Anting, garnered the most votes of any group. According to the Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Committee (CAEAL), UMG drew 17, 207 votes, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of the vote. The group is the electoral vehicle of the Macau Jiangmen Communal Society, benefitting from the thousands of Macao residents who emigrated from Jiangmen in Guangdong.
Ella Lei Cheng I, who heads the Union for Development (UPD), won in her first direct election run after serving as an indirectly-elected lawmaker for the labour sector in the outgoing legislature.
José Pereira Coutinho, the first-ranked candidate of NE, was re-elected to his fourth term in the legislature. Coutinho heads the Macau Civil Servants Association (ATFPM). Angela Leong On Kei, head of New Macau Development Union (NUDM), also won re-election to her fourth term. Leong is managing director and CEO of SJM Holdings Ltd, and the fourth wife of retired casino tycoon Stanley Ho.
Veteran lawmakers Au Kam San, head of the New Democratic Macau Association (ANMD) and Ng Kuok Cheong, heads of the Democratic Prosperous New Macau Association (APMD), both held onto their seats.
Ho Ion Sang, who heads the Progress Promotion Union (UPP), was re-elected. The group is a joint venture between the General Union of Neighbourhood Associations of Macau (Kai Fong) and Women’s General Association of Macau (Fu Luen). Four years ago, Ho ran alongside Wong Kit Cheng. The two split into two separate lists this year, with Wong, a nurse by profession, winning re-election as head of the Alliance for a Happy Home.
Si Ka Lon, head of Macau United Citizens’ Association (ACUM), and Becky Song Pek Kei, head of the Macau Citizens’ Development Association (ACDM), won re-election on different tickets from their previous bids. Si, Song, and businessman-cum-Fujianese community leader Chan Meng Kam ran on the same list four years ago. Despite garnering the highest number of votes in the previous direct election, Chan did not stand for re-election this year.
PROFESSIONAL SECTOR BREAKS TRADITION
In addition to the 14 seats directly elected by residents, association representatives indirectly elect 12 seats in Macao’s 33-seat legislature. Those seats are divided up among five sectors: social services and education (1), labour (2), culture and sports (2), professional (3), and commerce and finance (4).
Six electoral groups ran a total of 15 candidates in the five sectors, 3 more candidates than seats, breaking from the long-standing tradition of candidates running unopposed. Despite being the only sector with two competing electoral groups, the professional sector re-elected Chui Sai Cheong, Vong Hin Fai, and Chan Iek Lap.
Chui and Vong ran as the first- and second-ranked candidates, respectively, of the Candidature Committee of the Macau Professional Interests Union (OMCY). Chui is the elder brother of the Chief Executive, while Vong is a lawyer by profession. Chan, a paediatric doctor, was the first-ranked candidate of the Macau Medical Interests Union (UIMM). OMCY and UIMM fielded three candidates each.
Chui and Chan are sitting lawmakers in the indirect election’s professional sector. Vong was appointed by the Chief Executive in the previous legislature; he will replace lawyer Leonel Alves, who is retiring from the legislature.
In the social services and education sector, sitting lawmaker Chan Hong, vice-principal of Hou Kong Middle School and vice-chairwoman of Fu Luen, was the sole candidate fielded by the Association for Promotion of Social Services and Education (APSSE).
The labour sector elected two newcomers, Lam Long Wai and Lei Chan U. Lam, vice principal of Workers’ Children High School, and Lei, who heads the Macau Federation of Trade Unions’ Policy Research and Information Division, were the first- and second-ranked candidates of the Employees Associations Joint Candidature Committee (CCCAE) group. They will replace Lam Heong Sang, who is retiring from the legislature, and Ella Lei Cheng I, who won a seat in the direct election.
The culture and sports sector re-elected businessmen Vitor Cheung Lup Kwan and Andrew Chan Chak Mo under the banner of the Excellent Culture and Sports Union Association Group.
The Macau Business Interest Union (OMKC) fielded four candidates in the commerce and finance sector: newcomer Ip Sio Kai, and sitting lawmakers José Chui Sai Peng, Kou Hoi In, and Ho Iat Seng.
Ho, a businessman and president of the outgoing legislature, is the only local member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. Kou, a local deputy of the NPC, is the president of the Macao Chamber of Commerce (ACM). José Chui, cousin of Chief Executive Chui, is a civil engineer by profession. Ip serves as the deputy general manager of the local branch of Bank of China.
2017 Elections in Numbers
• A total of 174,872 voters – the highest number on record – cast their ballots in the direct legislative election with the valid number of votes standing at 172,628.
• There were 1,300 invalid and 944 blank votes. The voter turnout was 57 per cent, up from 55 per cent in 2013. This is the third highest voter turnout since the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) in 1999.
• A total of 5,397 indirect-election voters cast their ballots, amounting to 88.5 per cent of the total number of registered indirect-election voters this time.
• The Macao Legislative Assembly is composed of 33 members: 14 directly elected, 12 indirectly elected, and 7 appointed by the Chief Executive.
• The new legislature, Macao’s sixth since 1999, will begin work on 16th October.
TEXT Christian Ritter
PHOTOS Government Information Bureau
(Issue N. 42, September 2017)