By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The election campaign is drawing to an end and the direct legislative election is just around the corner. Yet, Melinda Chan Mei Yi, the first candidate on List No. 5 Reform and Innovation Alliance, said that she is not nervous at all.
This year Ms Chan is running for the election for the first time, with the support from her husband, incumbent lawmaker and businessman David Chow Kam Fai, her two children and friends.
Speaking to the Macau Daily Times at her campaign headquarters yesterday, the Sin Meng Charity Association’s president said if she is being elected, she will be a full-time lawmaker dedicating herself to helping disadvantaged people and the young generation.
Ms Chan also urges all voters to cast their votes on September 20. She said even if it turns out that her team gets defeated in the race, she will carry on her work in public welfare and social services in Macau.
Reporter: Is your participation in the legislative election this year to continue what your husband has been doing at the Legislative Assembly?
Melinda Chan: People should see it as a continuation and innovation at the same time. Our team [Reform and Innovation Alliance] is brand new whilst Convergence for Development [led by Mr Chow in previous elections] has already vowed to give us their full support. We share the same beliefs that we are concerned about the well-being of Macau. The association also agreed with our objective to promote livelihood and welfare reforms, and develop Macau in an innovative way.
R: How important is it to inherit things from the past and also to do things unconventionally?
Ms Chan: Mr Chow has been a lawmaker for 13 years, everyone can see his performance at the Assembly, but I won’t comment on it here. We really hope to stay in Macau and to develop Macau. We love Macau and therefore between 1998 and 1999 before the handover we didn’t have the intention to leave Macau. The money Mr Chow earned here would all be used to do investment locally. I have been in the social service sector for more than a decade. I can feel my social responsibility and we [Sin Meng Charity Association] always raise donations to push forward public welfare. In addition, in 2002 we proposed to the government to organise youth activities together and in 2003 the Solar program was launched with 5,000 participants in the first activity. We hope that people can pay attention to the young generation who are the pillars of society. I had already approached more than 30,000 young people, and also more than 15,000 elderly and people from other disadvantaged groups.
I want to enter the Assembly this year because over the past years I had met a lot of people from different levels, and their demands reinforced my sense of social responsibility. I feel that it’s my mission to step out and help them. Our aid to the people is temporary, no matter how big the gift pack is, it might be able to help them only for a month. In contrast, once a government policy is implemented, many people can benefit from it, which is a long-term solution. We also hope to see advancement in the healthcare system which is needed by every local resident. It’s a basic need of every human being.
Being a lawmaker is actually to carry on my work in Sin Meng Charity Association, but to take it to a higher step of the legal dimension.
If you do an opinion poll you will find that a majority of local university students are worried about their future prospects. I on my own or the association itself is not able to change anything, but if I am at the Assembly, I can remind the government what should be done.
It is a perfect timing to gather professional opinions about how to develop Macau, because of the change in the government which has a new mindset, the construction of the delta bridge, the Pearl River Delta development plan and also the growth of Hengqin Island. Macau can’t risk missing this chance.
R: When did you decide to run for the election?
Ms Chan: I only made the decision at the end of May or early June. But since last year there were already some people encouraging me to run for the election. I needed to think about it thoroughly because I had to make sure I would have the strength and capability to be a lawmaker. My inner self also told me I could handle the job. I’m some 40 years old now, how many 10 years do we have in a life time? I stand up this time and tell people I want to be a lawmaker and to help people out there.
My husband and two children also fully support my decision. It’s very important because as such I will need to devote a lot of time to social services. I’ve already decided that I will be a full-time lawmaker if I get elected. This year is a turning point in my life. My daughter is 21 years old and just started her third year in a university abroad. My 19-year old son just completed high school and went abroad to pursue tertiary education. They are both grown-ups and that means I can have more spare time for my work.
R: Was there any special experience in the past that made you so passionate at social work?
Ms Chan: No. Actually since 1996 I was already involved in some local charitable associations. I was one of the seven members managing Obra das Mães. I found the work very meaningful and hence I wanted to continue doing it. Sin Meng Association was founded in 2002 as supported and encouraged by some friends of mine.
If I’m elected, I will mainly speak for young people and disadvantaged groups, and also focus on people’s livelihood issues. Even though Macau’s economy was rapidly developed, the gap between rich and poor remained big. I hope the government can provide more assistance to the low and middle-income families.
R: What is the main difference between your team and the other 15 lists?
Ms Chan: I and the second candidate Harry Wu both decided that we will be full-time lawmakers if we’re being elected. Also, the average age of our candidates is 43 and they have worked for over 20 years and attained a certain professional level. In addition, lawmakers must have the heart to work for Macau, which I think is more important than experience. I really hope that I can achieve something in the following four years.
Our platform is all-round and covers a wide scope of issues. We did not exaggerate our commitments and we are confident to get them done.
R: Are you confident to win one or maybe two seats?
Ms Chan: We are quite positive to get at least one seat. But this year the election is very competitive. So far in the election campaign I felt people have good feeling about me. But Macau people are generally passive, and so it’s another issue to make them turn the good feeling into actions and go to vote.
R: How was the response to your team so far during the past 11 days?
Ms Chan: The people I approached were generally very nice. Some would say they supported me to do youth services and suggest putting more efforts into anti-drug campaigns. The old people also welcomed me a lot. But there is a problem about old people, they may not have the physical condition to go to the polling stations on the election day.
If all the candidates are standing in front of the old people and we ask them to point at whoever they want to vote for, I’m very confident that I will win.
R: How are you planning to do on Saturday (the day before the election) and Sunday the election day?
Ms Chan: On the 19th we have to remove all the campaign materials and be ready for the election on the next day. I think most of the voters should have a decision by now. The result is almost being set, just that it hasn’t been revealed yet.
I’m not nervous at all. I’ve already tried my best even if the result is not satisfactory. I want to dedicate to society wholeheartedly and I will only feel the pressure if I aim to get any privileges from being a lawmaker.
And on September 20 I will go to cast my vote too and wait for the result at the headquarters. There is not much we can do in the last two days.