Lawmakers cast ‘wrong votes’

Friday, October 30, 2009
Issue 857, Page 2
Word count: 987
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

For the first time at the legislature, some lawmakers demanded to vote again on a resolution after the result was announced by the president, as they argued that they had “misunderstood” what they were voting on.

The request was rejected lastly following the disapproval of other lawmakers.

The Legislative Assembly held its second plenary meeting yesterday with the 29 newly elected lawmakers, to vote on a resolution that defined the formation, term of office and member lists of three standing committees and three “follow-up” committees.

The “follow-up” committees are a new component of the legislature proposed by the executive council (comprising the legislature’s president, vice president and the first and second secretaries) in an attempt to reinforce its supervision role on the SAR government.

Beside the usual First, Second and Third Standing Committees, the “follow-up” committees will specially focus on respectively land and public land grant, public finance and also public administration and affairs.

Each of these six committees are formed by nine lawmakers as assigned by the executive council, and will operate for four years, coinciding with the term of the legislature.

The First Standing Committee is composed of Kwan Tsui Hang (president), Kou Hoi In, Leonel Alberto Alves, Tsui Wai Kuan, Au Kam San, Ung Choi Kun (secretary), Sio Chi Wai, Ho Ion Sang and Melinda Chan Mei Yi.

The Second Standing Committee comprises Fong Chi Keong, Chui Sai Cheong, Ng Kuok Cheong, Chan Chak Mo (president), Vong Hin Fai, Chan Meng Kam, Lee Chong Cheng (secretary), Ho Sio Kam and Mak Soi Kun.

As for the Third Standing Committee, it is made up of Vitor Cheung Lup Kwan, Cheang Chi Keong (president), Jose Pereira Coutinho, Jose Chui Sai Peng (secretary), Angela Leong On Kei, Lau Veng Seng, Lam Heong Sang, Chan Wai Chi and Tong Io Cheng.

The same lawmakers from the First, Second and Third Standing Committee respectively form the “follow-up” committees of land and public land grant, public finance and public administration and affairs.

The presidents and secretaries in the “follow-up” committees remain the same as those in the standing committees, except in the land and public land grant committee Kou Hoi In was elected as the secretary.

President Lau Cheok Va and Vice-president Ho Iat Seng of the Legislative Assembly are prohibited from being a member of any of the committees.

However, before the voting on the resolution took place, the lawmakers spent more than three hours on arguing over the appropriateness and the term of office of the three “follow-up” committees.

Cheang Chi Keong told the Assembly it would be more appropriate to have the “follow-up” committees focusing on other prominent social issues instead, such as the 19,000 public housing unit construction, the double-tier social security system, the implementation of the Imported Labour Law, illegal inns, equality in the salaries of civil servants, or the resumption of the investment immigration policy.

It was because the two temporary committees set up in the last term of the Assembly already worked on land and public land grant and also public finance for two years, and relevant opinion reports had been handed in to the government, Mr Cheang added.

Yet, Kwan Tsui Hang disagreed. She said that discussions on public land grant and the public financial system did not yet come to an end, adding “there are still lots of problems [in these two areas] and we need to find out how many of the suggestions we made to the government have been adopted – these are worth following up too”.

Meanwhile, a number of lawmakers were not convinced of the proposed term of office of the “follow-up” committees.

Since these kinds of committees are a new attempt, the lawmakers said initially they should operate for one year instead of four.

When Assembly president Lau Cheok Va told lawmakers to vote on Articles 5 to 9 concerning the formation of the “follow-up” committees, only 25 of the 27 lawmakers who were in the plenary meeting cast a vote.

Chui Sai Cheong and Kou Hoi In, who are respectively the First and Second Secretary of the Assembly, missed out the voting despite they were present when it took place.

Some lawmakers then told Lau Cheok Va former president Susana Chou must make sure every lawmaker had cast their votes (even when they abstained from voting) or remind them to do so before ending the voting process.

The result showed that 10 lawmakers voted for the five articles, nine voted against whilst six abstained from voting.

The articles were passed eventually as the resolution was not legislation and hence did not require the support from a minimum of half of the lawmakers.

At the same time, a few of the lawmakers, including Angela Leong On Kei, Chan Chak Mo and Fong Chi Keong complained to Lau Cheok Va that they thought they were voting on specifically whether or not to reduce the “follow-up” committees’ term of office to one year, instead of Articles 5 to 9 as a whole.

They demanded to call off the original result and vote again on the relevant articles.

However, the request was opposed by Leonel Alves, Tong Io Cheng, Ng Kuok Cheong and Kwan Tsui Hang, who argued that the result was already announced by the president and the “solemnity” of the Assembly must have to be preserved.

The voting result was retained lastly.

Meanwhile, Lau Cheok Va said that the Assembly will still be able to form temporary committees to work on timely issues in the future, as long as the proposal is supported by at least five lawmakers.

On the other hand, the Prospectus and Tenure Committee has also been formed with Fong Chi Keong and Vong Hin Fai being the president and secretary respectively.

Tsui Wai Kwan was supported by 20 lawmakers to become the president of the Administrative Committee, which is responsible for managing the legislature’s finance and preparing the yearly budget and accounts reports.

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