Locals favour democratic camp in Assembly election: survey

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Issue 757, Page 3
Word count: 833
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Pro-democracy candidates may become the biggest winner in this September’s Legislative Assembly Election as suggested in the latest Macau Quality of Life (QOL) Report.

In addition, the 2009 second quarter report again highlighted local citizens’ desires to have the right to vote in the Chief Executive Election and also to increase the number of directly elected seats at the legislature.

The study was divided into two different surveys, respectively on people’s satisfaction with their lives and overall living conditions in Macau, and on their civic culture, political orientations and expectations.

The Macau Inter-University Institute (IIUM) and De Ficcao Projectos Multimedia yesterday released the findings that were yielded from the valid responses given by 1,135 and 1,120 Macau residents respectively in the two surveys conducted in May.

In the part about local people’s civic culture and political orientations, it was found that 45.7 percent of the respondents intended to vote for pro-democracy lists on the September 20 election.

The result was against the 25.1 percent for the traditional associations lists such as from the General Union of the Neighbourhood Associations, 20.7 percent for the independent lists such as Jose Pereira Coutinho’s and 8.5 percent for the pro-gambling lists such as Angela Leong On Kei’s.

Ironically, in the last election in 2005, up to 38 percent of voters supported the pro-gaming candidates, while the democratic camp got only 24 percent of the votes.

According to research Eric Sautede, the finding indicated that pro-democracy lists should garner far more support this time around, benefiting from a context that combines a broad disenchantment regarding the present government administration and the expansion of a democratic offering.

“This year we’ve two pro-democracy lists from the same background [Au Kam San and Ng Kuok Cheong] and also the list of Agnes Lam Iok Fong which gears towards the upper or middle class who is also pro-democracy,” Mr Sautede said.

“The offering for democratic values is widening. There is a perception that the two are trying to connect the wishes of the people and also the offering of the political scene in Macau,” he added.

Meanwhile, most of the respondents said they were satisfied with the current political condition in Macau, yet the majority of them were just “half satisfied” with it.

It was also found that some 47 percent of the respondents deemed there were not a lot of corrupt government officials and 38 percent deemed “most officials are corrupt”.

Although it showed local people had a lower perception of corruption compared to Taiwan or the Philippines, the result was much higher than that in Hong Kong, the report said.

In addition, a majority of 51 percent of the respondents said that the best way to designate the Chief Executive of Macau was through universal suffrage, followed by nearly 28 percent favouring a larger Election Committee with more than 300 members.

The survey at the same time showed that up to 45.4 percent of the respondents believed a democratic regime was always more preferable to any other kinds of governments.

Yet, the findings suggested that the most urgent reform in Macau’s political system was the expansion of the number of directly elected seats, which currently stands at 12, in the Legislative Assembly.

Having universal suffrage in the Chief Executive Election however was ranked as the third priority, after a restructuring and expansion of the secretariats.

Locals regain confidence in life

On the other hand, in another survey about Macau residents’ perception of wellbeing in the territory, their satisfaction levels rebounded quickly from the lowest it had ever registered in the first quarter of this year to the highest in the second quarter of this year.

The Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) logged at 65.5, up by 2.5 points from the previous quarter. PWI is constituted by seven factors which are standard of living, community connectedness, future security, achievements in life, how safe the person feels, health and personal relationships.

In regards to the National Wellbeing Index (NWI), it jumped by 3.6 points to 61 in the reporting quarter.

NWI is made up of six factors which are economic situation, territorial security, government, social conditions, business and state of the environment.

According to project leader Professor Richard Whitfield, the significant revival of the satisfaction levels was attributable to the feeling of most of the local people that the “worst times of the financial crisis are over and they’re back onto a more steady development path”.

“It seems to be partly because of some indications that the crisis has passed internationally, but also in Macau we had the opening of City of Dreams, and the announcement of Chui Sai On as the candidate of the Chief Executive Election,” Prof. Whitfield said.

He also highlighted a finding that people in Macau seemed to be very conservative financially as reflected in answers about financial situation or home ownership.

“They’re always very careful to make sure that they will have some resources to fall back on in case that they have some hard times,” he said.

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