Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan said on Monday that a declaration of allegiance, which candidates will have to sign to be able to run in the Legislative Assembly (AL) elections, to confirm their agreement with the Macau Basic Law and their fidelity to the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR), was “a precautionary measure for a rainy day”.
Chan made the remarks after a closed-door meeting of the Legislative Assembly 2nd Standing Committee, noting that the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee’s interpretation of Article 104 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law states clearly that candidates must uphold the Hong Kong Basic Law and bear true allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
However, Chan, when asked by reporters, denied that the Macau government’s draft was submitted to the legislature upon the central government’s request.
“The draft can help improve the legal system. It [the draft] can also prepare for a rainy day,” Chan said.
The legislature’s 2nd Standing Committee President Andrew Chan Chak Mo had briefed reporters last week after a closed-door meeting of the committee with government officials on the draft of the government’s Legislative Assembly Election Law amendment bill.
According to the draft, candidates who refuse to sign the declaration, or if their actions or words prove that their declaration of allegiance is false, would be disqualified from running in the legislature’s direct and indirect elections.
“Even though they [pro-independence actions or remarks] have never occurred in the past [in Macau], what should we do if they happen in the future?”, Sonia Chan asked rhetorically, adding that the government should improve the legal system before any possible disputes over the issue.
The government proposes that the amended law take effect from the first day of the next legislative term in September next year.
Meanwhile, Andrew Chan briefed reporters on Monday’s meeting afterwards, saying that no committee members disagreed with the draft, even grassroots lawmaker Ng Kuok Cheong.
Macau’s next legislative elections are slated to be held in the autumn of next year.