The number of signatures repeated on more than one candidacy list has jumped to 92 this week from a total of 16 repeat signatures reported by the Electoral Affairs Commission for the 2017 Legislative Assembly (AL) last week, according to information provided yesterday by the Chairman of the Commission, Tong Hio Fong.
The Chairman, also a judge of the Court of Second Instance, said that the next step on the part of the Commission is “to get in contact with the people involved in order to verify under what circumstances they have signed more than one candidacy list, and also to verify what is their final goal or intention [by doing this].”
Mr. Tong further claimed that they have been in contact with more than ten people at this stage.
Responding to enquiries as to whether the repeat signatures constitute infractions, the Commission Chairman replied that they “have to analyse the circumstances under which they have occurred, on a case-by-case basis, in order to verify if these cases constitute irregularities or infractions.”
Mr. Tong added that the Commission cannot yet disclose its findings.
“When the time comes, we will analyse and publish the results,” he said.
As at the day of the announcement, the Chairman also said that the Commission had received 21 applications for lists by direct vote and two applications for lists by indirect vote.
Of the 23, the Commission has already proceeded to accept six – up by five from last week. One of the candidate lists was ruled out by the Commission, according to Mr. Tong.
The Commission Chairman further noted that the number of venues hosting polling stations for this year’s election will be increased to 19 from 17 last year, with the two new venues located at Sai Van lake and Feira do Carmo.
In terms of distribution, 13 venues will be in Macau, five in Taipa, and one in Coloane. Candidates will be allowed to campaign in those sites during the period of electoral activities.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission also said yesterday that they have “received a total of 16 complaints, all related to our Commission, and they have been transferred to the CCAC [Commission Against Corruption].”
Mr. Tong added that another concern recently raised by Macau citizens is the fact that some participants “have been anticipating their electoral propaganda, or that there have been irregularities in this regard, while claiming that the Commission has knowledge about this, but does not disclose the information [in its possession].”
The Chairman explained that those concerns were one of the main points discussed by the Commission during the meeting held yesterday, arguing in response to public disquiet that they have previously been forward about the question of electoral propaganda.
“According to our current law, after the publication of the list of the Candidacy Commission, it is for us to regulate and monitor electoral propaganda. And according to the provisions of the Electoral Law we still have not detected any irregularities or conflicts with the law,” he commented.
Liaison Office dinner
Regarding the accusations raised on Monday by legislator José Pereira Coutinho of not being invited to a dinner promoted by the Central Government’s Liaison Office for the Macanese and Portuguese communities at which Jorge Neto Valente, another candidate for the upcoming elections spoke, Mr. Tong said that the Commission only “learned about such information through the newspaper.”
In a report by Ponto Final, the legislator and cChairman of the Macao Civil Servants Association claimed that the local Beijing representation has favoured Valente’s candidacy as Melinda Chan’s number two.
“From the Commission’s point of view, we cannot forbid people from participating in these types of activities, gatherings or dinners. We have first to verify if such activities are directly related to the elections, and, until now, there are no indications or information pointing to a direct relationship,” he explained.
Mr. Tong further said that in case “there is a chance that it may constitute a crime or an infraction, there must be a complaint of a concrete fact” for the Commission to be able to investigate.