Cancelled Tiananmen exhibition causes heated debate at Legislative Assembly

Local pro-democracy legislators today (Friday) strongly criticized at the Legislative Assembly (AL) the cancellation of an exhibition to remember the Chinese democratic movement that resulted in the Tiananmen violent crackdown, denouncing it as a political decision and an attack on freedom of expression.

“We found that perhaps we no longer have the right and the freedom to publicly celebrate the June 4th in Macau,” said pro-democracy deputy Sulu Sou during a debate in the Legislative Assembly (AL), denouncing that the decision was aimed at political reasons with the aim of “attacking freedom of expression through administrative means”.

The youngest legislator in Macau, who wore a white t-shirt that read ‘people will not forget’ in Chinese, went even further in the accusations and said: “I don’t know if this was due to some smart guy or adulation by Macau government officials to show their loyalty or at the orders of a hierarchically superior entity”.

The Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) revoked last week the permission to hold the “Photographic Exhibition of the Democratization Movement of 1989”, alleging preventive measures against the Covid-19 and also, explained the Au Kam San, due to the “revision of the criteria for appraising and authorizing applications for loaning premises for carrying out activities”.

Au Kam San – one of the organizers of the exhibition – today also described the justifications given as “absurd” and therefore “one cannot help but question this ridiculous decision bythe IAM”.

During a lively debate, several legsilators appointed by the Chief Executive also intervened in favour of the cancellation. Lao Chi Ngai even went so far as to say that the exhibition represents a violation of Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems.

Last June was 30 years of the Tiananmen massacre, an event that Beijing has not recognized to this day.

Minutes later, legislator Wu Chou Kit also said that “freedom of expression is a fundamental right, but it is not an absolute value, it has limits”.

Most of the arguments in favor of the cancellation decision were based on the prevention of Covid-19.

A justification that pro-democracy legislator Ng Kuok Cheong – also one of the organizers of the exhibition – completely refused.

“There have been no cases for more than 30 days, primary and secondary schools have even restarted classes, and as in this type of there is no concentration of people, prevention is not prejudiced ”, he said.

Following the cancellation of the exhibition, the organization’s officials are expecting to know whether the vigil in Macau to remember the Tiananmen massacre on June 4 may also be banned.

“As for the ‘June 4th vigil’, which is shown at the exhibition, the Public Security Police Force (CPSP) communication is awaited, under the terms of the law, to negotiate measures to prevent the epidemic,” said Ng Kuok Cheong.

On Monday, Au Kam San, in statements sent to Lusa, said that if the IAM does not approve the vigil, the organization will ask the police for the right to meet and, if it does not agree, the organizers “will insist on sitting down because there is no regulation so that a citizen cannot sit in a public area ”.

In 1989, in Beijing, the Chinese army advanced with tanks to disperse peaceful student-led protests, causing an unofficially assumed death toll. Some estimates point to thousands of deaths.

Macau and Hong Kong are the only two places in China where Tiananmen can be publicly remembered and vigils are held annually in both cities to remember the victims of the June 4 massacre.