CE Electoral Law reform can’t combat corruption: lawmakers

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Issue 371, Page 2
Word count: 550
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Changes proposed by the government of the Chief Executive Electoral Law “cannot effectively combat corruption in elections” as lawmakers deemed the amendment bill is making the existing law “even more confusing”.

The first deliberation meeting of the electoral law’s amendment bill was carried out by the Second Standing Committee at the Legislative Assembly yesterday.

President of the standing committee, Fong Chi Keong, said their discussion mainly focused on Articles 108, 110 and 117 of the bill during the closed meeting.

Article 108 suggests that offenders who assist with investigation of election crimes could avoid being prosecuted.

However, such kind of indemnity is at present only applicable on drug crimes and lawmakers were concerned if it was appropriate to introduce the same measure to the Chief Executive Electoral Law, Mr Fong said.

Meanwhile, the amendment bill suggests that any attempts of election crimes shall serve the same penalty as having committed the crimes according to Article 110.

Mr Fong said the article contradicted to the existing criminal law which rules out prosecution for people attempting to commit crimes.

According to the original electoral law, Article 117 states that people who use “violence, coercion, deception, fraud, false news or any other unlawful means to oppress or induce any persons not to stand for elections or to give up their candidacies” shall be given a maximum jail sentence of three years.

The government proposed, however, to add that people who “offer or make a commitment to offer interests” to any persons causing them either to stand for or not to stand for elections shall be prosecuted for one to five years in prison.

The committee president said the proposed change of Article 117 was “even more confusing and unclear” than the original law as the government did not give a definition of “interests” which he added will make corruption crimes in elections even harder to be punished by law.

In addition, the amendment bill suggests regulations about prohibiting publicity or campaigns on the election day as well as false accusations to be put under one article of Article 124.

Mr Fong said the regulations were two different topics and thus should be set out separately.

Although the government explained earlier that changes of the Chief Executive Electoral Law and the Legislative Council Electoral Law were proposed with a main aim to tackle corruption in elections, Mr Fong suggested yesterday the amendment bill of the Chief Executive Electoral Law would not be capable of achieving the government’s objective.

He said more clear and precise provisions should be listed in the proposal or otherwise it would create “loopholes” for people to commit offences.

As the Chief Executive Electoral Law is the only law in Macau that does not involve complement of Administrative Regulations, Mr Fong said the deliberation work of the amendment bill must be carried out “cautiously” as the law cannot be polished by any Administrative Regulations in the future.

He said that the Second Standing Committee hoped penalties of election crimes to be consistent among the Chief Executive Electoral Law, the Legislative Council Electoral Law and the Voters Registration Act as they are the “three main composing laws of Macau’s political system”.

Meetings will be held with the First Standing Committee which is responsible for analysing the other two laws, Mr Fong added.

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