Macau (MNA) – Political activist and former New Macau Association Vice-President Jason Chao told Macau News Agency (MNA) that he believes the Macau Government waited for Sulu Sou Ka Hou to be elected and sworn in as legislator before starting criminal procedures against him for his alleged public disobedience.
The directly elected legislator was suspended from his functions as a legislator on December 4, after the 28 legislators cast anonymous votes on the suspension during a special plenary session of the Legislative Assembly (AL).
The justification for the suspension was for the legislator to be able to defend himself in trial against charges brought against him: these refer to his participation in a demonstration organised by the New Macau Association in May 2016 over a RMB100 million donation to Jinan University by the Macao Foundation (FM).
“In August, I received a tip-off about the agenda of a smear campaign against the New Macau Association (NMA) during the elections. One of the items on the agenda was the criminal case in relation to the RMB100 million Jinan donation. In the middle of the second campaign week, to my surprise, the ‘criminal case’ was still not exposed,” Mr. Chao told MNA.
According to MSAR law, the crime of public disobedience can incur a penalty of up to two years in prison or 240 days of fine.
In the event of a sentence equal to or greater than 30 days, the plenary will vote if the legislator can maintain his term of office.
Former New Macau Association President Scott Chiang faces similar charges related to the same protest.
The first court trial session initially scheduled for November 28 was adjourned with a new date not yet determined.
Mr. Chao is convinced that the Macau and the Chinese central government are “well aware of the sympathetic sentiment being stirred up by the vote against Sulu” and that escalating the case to more serious consequences could “create a chilling effect” for the local opposition.
“Drawing a Cantonese idiom again, I think the rulers would ‘slaughter a chicken to warn the monkey’. By setting the ultimate dismissal of Sulu, the authorities can set a precedent of non-compliance with the established rules in order to deter anyone who dares challenge their authority,” the activist told MNA.
The activist is convinced that although the case could make Macau citizens reflect upon the political system and the relation between justice and the law, it would not lead to a general “public outcry” similar to the 2014 protests against higher public employees pensions.
“The middle-class, especially comprised of young people of my generation, is too reliant upon the economic structure (namely, the gaming industry and the Civil Service) of Macau […] Fernando Chui Sai On withdrew the compensation bill in 2014 because of the proximity to his “scripted re-election”. Now, he could just do anything, so I am concerned,” Mr. Chao added.