Macau’s government has proposed amending the law so that candidates of the Legislative Assembly will be required to declare that they uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Special Administrative Region.

Macanese lawmaker Chan Chak-mo revealed Thursday that the government’s proposed amendments to the legislative election law include the new declaration requirement. The proposal is similar to the controversial confirmation form introduced by the Hong Kong government during the Legislative Council election in September. Six candidates were barred from running after electoral officers held that they did not uphold the Basic Law.

macau legco
Macau’s Legislative Assembly. File

But different from Hong Kong’s confirmation form, the Macanese version added that those who are “proven in fact” to have failed to uphold Macau’s mini-constitution or swear allegiance to the territory will be barred from standing as candidates.

Potential candidates will also need to declare that they do not belong to any foreign governments or parliaments if the bill is passed. The election committee of the Legislative Assembly will assess whether candidates have breached their declarations.

‘Close loopholes’

Chan said the move would close the loopholes in election laws, broadcaster TDM reported. He added that there was no objection from lawmakers on the committee tasked with reviewing the proposal.

According to online news outlet Macau Concealer, Chan said that statements demanding Macau’s independence and the “overthrowing of whatever” would be sufficient proof that a candidate does not uphold the Basic Law or pledge allegiance to the Macau SAR.

Macanese lawmaker Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong said: “As expected, our government is keen to show its loyalty to Beijing by following the Chinese government’s ruling on Hong Kong’s Basic Law and introducing disqualification rules to our own laws.”

Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong
Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong (centre). Photo: Antonio Ng, via Facebook.

Politician Jason Chao of the pro-democracy New Macau Association criticised the government for censoring people’s thoughts and giving too much power to the electoral affairs commission. He said on an online radio show that the lack of objective criteria of the new requirements is problematic.

“If Chief Executive Chui Sai-on insisted on taking his oath in Mandarin even though he is so bad at the language… I don’t think he’d have ‘solemnly’ taken his pledge of allegiance to Macau,” said Chao.

Chao’s party colleague Chiang Meng-hin said: “This is like Iranian elections in which candidates have all been vetted before they can run for elections.”

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Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.