Thousands unveil long-awaited election campaign

Monday, September 7, 2009
Issue 812, Page 1 & 2
Word count: 687
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The direct legislative election campaign entered the second day yesterday, which did not only draw the attention of local residents and voters, but also caught the eyes of tourists who would pause in front of the 1.6-metre high posters hung by each of the 16 lists throughout Macau.

A majority of the 123 candidates belonging to 16 lists chose to kick off the campaign at 00:00 on September 5 in Senado Square, where thousands of supporters in special t-shirts gathered and chanted slogans in favour of their own preference of lists.

Meanwhile, some lists chose to put up their first promotional posters at the Border Gate, marking the official implementation of the 14-day election campaign.

While posters showcasing the lists’ numbers, names, candidates and summarised platforms have been hung in the 20 public places decided by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC), the candidates attended the first promotional activity on Saturday morning in Senado Square to make their public debut.

From No.1 to No. 16, candidates from each list were given 10 minutes to introduce themselves and their platforms on stage to the audience.

Booths were also set up for each list to give way leaflets, souvenirs and other promotional items, which attracted both adults and children’s interests.

In addition, a simulated polling station was installed in order to let voters experience the entire voting process prior to the September 20 election.

The next simulation will be carried out in another location to be announced at a later time.

According to EAC president Fong Man Chong, the campaign had started orderly and he hoped that in the remaining days each list could launch their activities in line with law so as to win voters’ support.

Mr Fong said the event was a “rare opportunity” for all 16 lists to get close to residents at the same time.

Although the candidates had to find their own special ways to campaign, Mr Fong said they appeared to have “strong self-discipline and high organisational skills” when launching their works, which “aroused locals’ participation and also created an election atmosphere”.

He also said that this year’s election campaign was running “more smoothly” than last time in 2005, which suggested that “Macau’s election culture has moved a big step forward”.

Since the campaign has already begun, the EAC president said the commission’s next task is to organise various training related to the entire voting process and confirm arrangements in the 28 polling stations.

On the second day of the campaign yesterday, publicity activities got heat up on streets throughout the territory.

From the morning to the evening, people around almost every corner of Macau could hear the “theme songs” or public announcements broadcast from certain lists’ billboard vehicles.

Those who do not have mobile billboards would try to draw voters’ attention by giving away specially designed freebies with the lists’ logos, numbers and names being printed on them, such as umbrellas, portable fans, caps, wet tissue packs and pens.

The strategy had certainly caught people’s eyes, as a large crowd of young and old encircled a list of candidates who were distributing promotional items near the fountain in Senado Square.

At the same time, giving away leaflets or flyers remained the most common tactic in the election campaign.

This year, several lists have also launched their own websites to promote their candidates and platforms online.

Of them, some are also providing certain Portuguese and English contents besides Chinese.

On the other hand, the lists continued to stage their campaigns in different locations every day assigned by a draw last month.

The EAC has chosen 14 public places, mainly squares and parks, for each list of candidates to promote themselves to different neighbourhoods of Macau.

Each venue will be used two times a day until September 18, from 10am to 3pm and from 5.30pm to 10.30pm.

Meanwhile, the EAC has printed out around 80,000 free booklets that summarised the platform of each of the 16 lists.

Copies can be obtained in various locations such as the Public Administration Building in Rua do Campo, the Red Market, public libraries, municipal markets and their activity centres.

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