Grassroots lawmaker Antonio Ng Kuok Cheong said Thursday he hoped that a new round of political reform can begin next year, in time for the introduction of universal suffrage in 2019.
He made the plea on the sidelines of a forum held by the New Macau Association (NMA) outside the University of Macau (UM) library about the path of Macau’s political development.
The forum came as Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central” movement entered its 40th day. Speakers at the forum included Ng and Frank Chio Ka Fai, a representative of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS).
“We want people to understand that both Hong Kong and Macau need a democratic political system. If the current political system fails, even the most moderate group of people will hit the streets to protest, as seen in the controversy of the [ill-fated] perks bill earlier this year,” said Ng, arguing that having universal suffrage in Macau in 2019 does not violate the Basic Law.
The veteran lawmaker suggested that the biggest hindrance may come from Macau’s businesspeople since their interests may be affected.
“We hope that Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On will propose a new round of political reform next year to the central government and we hope that the central government will approve [the proposal] so we can start working.”
Sio Ka I, a local journalist working in Hong Kong, said she observed that there is a stark difference between Hongkongers and locals’ attitudes towards the “Occupy Central” movement, noting Hongkongers’ positive reaction to Tuesday’s incident in which a yellow banner was hung on the UM library in support of the movement, while locals’ reactions were dismissive.
Sio also stressed the importance of civic education so that more youths become aware of the problems affecting Macau’s society and its political system. However, one of the audience members said she was pessimistic about this prospect, saying that professors and students in Macau rarely talk about the “Occupy Central” movement and since a majority of locals prioritise livelihood issues, she believed that Macau’s path to democracy will be longer than Hong Kong’s.(macaunews/macaupost)