By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Commissioner of the Public Security Police (PSP) Lei Siu Peng admitted mistakes and responsibility for the conflicts during the Labour Day protest, stressing that the force has learnt from the experience and says they’ll perform better when handling unforeseen incidents in the future.
Responding to lawmaker Au Kam San’s oral interpellation at the Legislative Assembly yesterday, the PSP Commissioner confessed that they were “not well prepared” to handle the large number of reporters that “suddenly” rushed the scene to take photos of a protestor being taken away by police.
“The police officers tried their very best to maintain everyone’s safety and order, and did not have the intention to obstruct media coverage,” Lei told lawmakers at the plenary meeting.
“There were some inexperienced front-line officers who were anxious to restore order and therefore said something inappropriate, such as ‘[you] cannot take photos if [you’re] not journalists’, he said.
With regard to allegations that some police officers tried to drive the media away using violence, Lei said a criminal investigation has been established into the case.
He stressed that the PSP have learned from the experience and will review their work, in the hope to be able to “better deal with unforeseen incidents” in the future.
In addition, the commissioner reiterated that the plan to set up a specific media coverage area during the demonstration was not to limit news reporting, “on the contrary it was to ensure [reporter] safety and provide more convenience”.
He said he regretted that the media had “misunderstood” the police’s “good intention”.
Nevertheless, Lei pointed out that the PSP will study whether or not such a media coverage area will be required in future protests, adding that views will be sought from the media.
Furthermore, the commissioners explained that having plain clothes police filming the rallies allows the PSP to “understand the activities more” and also to “maintain social order”.
He stressed that all video had been handled in line with the legislation for the protection of individual privacy.
Democratic reform not priority
Meanwhile, Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda Chan responded to lawmaker Chan Wai Chi’s oral interpellation and reiterated the Macau Government’s stance that a democratic political regime will only be established “step by step and in strict accordance to the Basic Law”.
She also said no consensus had yet been reached in Macau’s community regarding the matter.
According to director of the Public Administration and Civil Services Bureau (SAFP) Jose Chu, between December 20, 2009 and April 20, 2011 the government received 120 opinions from scholars, politicians, experts and social organisations. A majority of them, at 33, agreed that a consensus needs to be obtained before the SAR’s political system can be developed gradually, Chu said.
Another 27 opinions deemed that Macau should focus on economical and livelihood issues at this moment.
Yet, the SAFP chief disclosed that “only five” requested to implement consultation on a democratic regime as soon as possible and 12 demanded to increase the number of directly elected seats at the Legislative Assembly.
Chu pointed out that the government has noticed that there is “no controversy” concerning the “gradual development” of a democratic political regime, but opinions about universal suffrage are “far fewer”.
On the contrary, he said the demands for enhancing electoral systems, reinforcing civic education and the awareness of corruption-free elections are “more notable”.