It can’t be any simpler…

Saturday, October 3, 2009
Issue 834, Page 2
Word count: 561
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The verdict of the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) really caught me by surprise. The whole direct legislative election can’t be more dramatic than this. I was astonished to see the huge difference between the two numbers of valid votes coming out from the initial 6,539 invalid ballots determined by respectively the General Accounting Committee (and also a little bit by the Electoral Affairs Commission perhaps?) and the TUI. Truly, what a joke.

For those who might have missed the news – the General Accounting Committee (AAG), after having verified all the ballots cast based on “a set of unified standards”, announced two days after the election that of the 6,539 invalid votes, up to 83 percent or 5,467 could be turned into valid because they “clearly showed the voting intentions”, even though on some ballot papers the voting symbol was being stamped outside of the blank square boxes.

Melinda Chan Mei Yi, one of the 12 winning candidates, then filed an appeal to the TUI against the AAG’s own interpretation of the Legislative Election Law.

On September 28 (I guess it was also one of the few times that a Macau court could hand down a verdict so soon, but of course this time the circumstance was special) the TUI said no to the AAG, and ruled that only 41 (yes, 41 only!!) of those “invalid votes” should be deemed valid. At the same time the court also rescinded the supplementary provisions to the invalid ballot standards set by the AAG.

The irony is that the reasoning given by the TUI was simple and easy to understand even for less educated people. By simply quoting the related provisions in the Legislative Election Law, I think the court has explained it all and well.

Okay, what the judges said was that according to Article 120 of the law, if the voting symbol is marked outside of the blank boxes representing each of the lists on a ballot paper, such as on the numbers, logos or names of the lists, or other blank areas on the paper, such ballot have to be deemed invalid since it violates Article 110 and Article 65 of the law.

The funny part is that the EAC president, Fong Man Chong, is one of the judges in the collegiate bench of the Court of First Instance, while the AAG president, Mai Man Ieng, is a public prosecutor.

Both are supposed to be top professionals who know how to interpret legal phrases and understand the law very well.

I really wonder what had gone wrong or what had constituted to such a complete different interpretation of the law between the EAC/AAG and the Court of Final Appeal. I mean they are all veteran judges/legal professionals, aren’t they?

Thankfully the EAC president still insisted that they had given clear guidelines to the polling stations in sorting out possibly invalid votes. And I believed so. The TUI ruling actually backed up the staff at the polling stations and showed that they might have a better understanding of the law than the EAC and AAG members.

So the staff got vindicated, as Mr Fong had said before that it was the staff at the polling stations who had inconsistent understanding of the law and thus sorted out more than 6,500 invalid votes “incorrectly”.

Let’s “hooray” to the Court of Final Appeal.

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