Lawyers not certain on Chui’s idea to increase judges

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Issue 769, Page 3
Word count: 542
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Macao Lawyers Association (AAM) doubted Chief Executive candidate Fernando Chui Sai On’s idea to appoint legal professionals and lawyers as judges or prosecutors.

During the one hour meeting at the World Trade Centre yesterday afternoon, most of the participating lawyers raised questions or gave opinions concerning legal training and the quality of legislative process in Macau.

In Mr Chui’s political platform, he said that in order to ease the shortage of judicial officers, he suggested to study the feasibility and plan to recruit lawyers and legal professionals who meet certain requirements to become judges or prosecutors.

AAM president Jorge Neto Valente raised concerns over the issue of judicial neutrality and conflict of interest, whilst another member questioned the possibility to execute the plan as he said lawyers usually made higher income than being judges or prosecutors.

The Chief Executive candidate explained to the lawyers that it was just a “preliminary idea”, and if elected he must first consult with the AAM before any decision was to be made.

He also recognised local lawyers’ contribution and services in providing professional legal aid to people in need, despite the fees charged might just “enough for a meal or coffee”.

Meanwhile, another AAM member was concerned about the teaching quality of the University of Macau’s (UM) Faculty of Law, pointing out that a number of teaching assistants there were fresh university graduates who lacked real-life work experience.

Mr Chui then responded that nearly 10 years since the handover, it was time for the faculty to transform itself into a “formal law school” for the future of Macau’s legal profession.

“The law school in UM had made an outstanding contribution during the transitional period before the handover. In order to achieve localisation, it opened law courses for local people who dedicated themselves and much of their spare time to the study after work every day,” he said.

“This helped cultivate a group of judicial personnel who are Macau’s valuable asset no matter they’re serving in public departments or private companies,” he added.

As that “specific mission” during the transitional period had already been completed, Mr Chui said the faculty should now begin to turn itself into a formal law school in order to make even greater contribution to society.

“The faculty always had to try very hard to invite legal professionals or lawyers to be part-time lecturers, but needing to depend on this group of people who barely have time to give classes distorted the spirit and principles of a formal law school in a university,” Mr Chui said.

“From the perspective of higher education, it’s essential to turn the faculty into a formal law school such as by having sufficient teaching staff and power to conduct research,” he added.

The Chief Executive candidate also said that only through changing the school’s structure and system could the fundamental issues be solved.

On the other hand, Mr Chui said that Macau needed to enhance the standards of law drafting and strengthen the team of legal professionals.

The second Chief Executive candidate public hearing will be held at 3.30pm today in Keang Peng Middle School, and the third and last session will be held at 8pm tomorrow in the No. 1 Auditorium at the Macao Polytechnic Institute.

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