Macau’s youngest lawmaker Sulu Sou has received a MOP40,800 fine (HK$39,614) after he was charged with unlawfully participating in a protest in 2016.

Sou, 26, has been suspended by the Macau legislature since December. Any charges against lawmakers that are punishable by up to three years in jail can only proceed with the legislature’s authorisation.

Sou, of the pro-democracy New Macau Association, faced disqualification if a jail sentence of more than 30 days was handed down, but the court considered a fine adequate since it was his first offence, the protest was non-violent and the duration was short.

Sulu Sou
Sulu Sou. Photo: Facebook.

Sou was elected with more than 9,000 votes last September and his tenure lasted only 48 days. If the prosecution does not file an appeal in 20 days, Sou may be able to return to his seat in the 33-seat Legislative Assembly after it declares an end to his suspension.

Activist Scott Chiang – then president of the New Macau Association – was also charged for the protest and received a MOP27,600 fine (HK$26,797).

In May 2016, Sou and others protested at Chief Executive Fernando Chui’s residence over the Macau Foundation’s decision to donate RMB 100 million (HK$122 million) to Jinan University in Guangzhou. Both the university, and the semi-official foundation, are linked to Chui.

Police ordered the protesters to leave, but they folded protest letters in the form of planes and threw them over the fence of the residence before leaving peacefully.

Then in March last year, Sou and Chiang were charged with “aggravated disobedience,” which is punishable with up to two years of imprisonment.

Sulu Sou Fernando Chui
Sulu Sou protesting outside Macau chief executive Fernando Chui’s residence. Photo: Facebook.

After the ruling, Sou said he did not believe he committed an offence.

“I still believe we were exercising our basic rights [of assembly],” he said. “We can’t say we are satisfied, but we believe the judiciary is independent.”

Sou said he was concerned about civil rights in Macau in the future as members of the public could easily be convicted for unlawful assembly after the case.

He added that it was too early to say whether he can retake his legislative seat as there will be a 20-day appeal period.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.