Judicial aid bill violates Basic Law: Susana Chou

Thursday, August 5, 2010
Issue 1081, Page 4
Word count: 419
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Former president of the Legislative Assembly Susana Chou called the draft law providing judicial aid to civil servants “a serious violation of the Basic Law”.

She made the comments on her latest blog post yesterday.

According to Chou, who chaired the legislature from 1999 to 2009, there are “drawbacks” in the provisions and the Government has failed to take into account the “principle of fairness” when drafting the bill.

“The Basic Law states that Macau residents are all equal before the law, but the bill has seriously breached this provision of the Basic Law,” she wrote.

The Government intends to extend the judicial aid mechanism to every single civil servant and Article 4 in the bill proposes that as long as a public worker can “give proper reasons” he or she can use public funds to initiate a civil or criminal lawsuit against anybody.

“This [article] has presumed that the Macau resident is already responsible [for the accusations], even if at last the resident doesn’t have to shoulder any responsibility, there is no way that the mental, financial and reputation damage he/she suffers can be compensated,” Chou said.

“In a small city like Macau, the hardships and pressure these civilians face at work and in their lives when being sued are hard to estimate,” she added.

Since the Chief Executive and principal government officials are upholding “enormous power, once this kind of unfair legislation is passed it may be used by immoral officials as a tool to suppress news and freedom of speech, engage in collusion, abuse public power and retaliate [against people] through law enforcement.”

Once this scenario comes to reality, Chou said it will “definitely run in the opposition direction with the political concept of building a sunshine government”.

On the other hand, she pointed out that the Government is “creating another administrative mechanism” that “does not only weaken the administrative/legislative/judicial counterbalance mechanism stated in the Basic Law, but is also not beneficial to Macau’s legal system and the SAR’s long-term stability”.

It is because, she explained, under the existing law judicial aid applications have to be approved by judges, but the bill is now proposing that civil servants’ applications will be decided by the Chief Executive.

“If the Government thinks that the current judicial aid system is inadequate to protect Macau residents’ rights and interests in this aspect, it can modify the existing laws in order to achieve the desired results so that all residents including the civil servants can benefit from it together,” Chou wrote.

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