Graft buster’s power extension bill merely passed in first reading

Friday, April 3, 2009
Issue 660, Page 2
Word count: 312
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The bill to extend the graft buster’s jurisdiction to the private sector was passed just beyond the 50 percent margin necessary in the first reading at the Legislative Assembly yesterday.

Of the 27 lawmakers attended in the plenary meeting, 15 cast a favourable vote, two opposed the power expansion, whilst 10 abstained from voting.

Legislative Assembly president Susana Chou said such voting results were seen for the first time over the past decade.

She also said to the Commission Against Corruption’s (CCAC) representatives that she hoped lawmakers’ concern and opinions could be looked at thoroughly, and adequate communications could be maintained when the bill is taken to the standing committee level.

Jose Pereira Coutinho said a lot of complaints were made in society against the CCAC’s lack of transparency.

Despite the commission has to keep most of its information confidential, Coutinho said “basic details must have to be released, or otherwise public trust could not be gained”.

Meanwhile, Fong Chi Keong deemed the bill as “being drafted very hastily and immature”. He questioned CCAC Deputy Commissioner Tou Wai Fong of whether corruption was “prevalent” in the current private sector of Macau.

Fong said he was concerned that once the anti graft commission’s jurisdiction was extended, residents would be “distributed” by investigators.

Ung Choi Kun also criticised the bill for its “ambiguous provisions”, adding it would impact local business’ normal operations.

Chow Kam Fai was one of the 10 who abstained from voting.

He said he supported the purpose of the bill which is to combat bribery activities in the private sector, but CCAC’s existing manpower “will not be able to afford the increase in workloads after the power extension”.

Chow praised the graft buster’s efforts in investigating former secretary Ao Man Long’s massive corruption and money laundering case, however at the same time he pointed out that the bill was “under prepared”.

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