By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Fong Man Chong, one of the presidents of the Court of First Instance’s collegiate bench, who reportedly would be the next anti-corruption Commissioner, was appointed judge of the Court of Second Instance according to the Official Gazette yesterday.
Incumbent Commissioner of the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC), Cheong U, who was also said to become the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture in Fernando Chui Sai On’s government, yesterday declined to give any comment when asked by reporters if the appointment was substantial.
“[We] cannot see any official announcement and therefore [I] won’t talk about it,” the CCAC Commissioner said before attending a symposium at MGM Grand.
The post of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture has been vacant since May this year when Fernando Chui Sai On quitted in order to run for the Third Chief Executive Election.
If Commissioner Cheong is to take up the new job lastly, his successor will likely be Fong Man Chong, one of the three presidents of the collegiate bench at the Court of First Instance (TPI), according to recent news reports citing anonymous sources from the SAR government.
Fong was also the president of the Electoral Affairs Commission for the Fourth Legislative Elections that took place in September.
However, coincidentally the Official Gazette yesterday released an Executive Order by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah who, based on the recommendation of the independent committee to recommend judges, appointed Fong and Tam Hio Wa, the president of the Primary Court (TJB) and the Administrative Court, judges of the Court of Second Instance (TSI).
The appointment came less than one and a half month before the third term of the SAR government to be led by Fernando Chui Sai On commences on December 20.
Although the late appointment does not necessarily rule out the possibility that Fong may change to head the CCAC within a short period, it did make the rumour more “mysterious”.
The Macau Daily Times tried to contact Fong yesterday but failed. His mobile phone was diverted to voice mail when the MDTimes called him an hour later after having been told he was in a meeting.
Changes in courts
Nevertheless, due to the latest appointment of Tam Hio Wa, judge of the Administrative Court Ho Wai Neng will replace Tam to become the president of the Primary Court (TJB) and the Administrative Court for a three-year term.
At the same time, Ho and other three TJB judges – Tong Hio Fong, Teresa Leong and Mário Augusto Silvestre – have been named the presidents of the collegiate bench at the Court of First Instance.
On the other hand, the TJB Fourth Criminal Court will be set up and start operation on November 17. The new court is to share the workload of the existing three criminal courts by helping to handle a quarter of their files or documents based on a random case redistribution.
Moreover, Viriato Manuel Pinheiro de Lima, one of the two judges of the Court of Final Appeal, has his employment contract renewed for two years to be effective from December 20 this year.