The Legislative Assembly Electoral Affairs Committee (CAEAL) said on Sunday that in the case of any discrepancies between the Chinese and Portuguese versions of a piece of legislation it is lawmakers’ original legislative intent that reigns supreme.
The government-appointed committee also said that in such cases it was not a matter of which of Macau’s two official languages was to be accorded prevalence over the other.
Moreover, the committee pointed out that Decree-Law No. 101/99/M gives equal ranking to Macau’s two official languages concerning the validity of legal documents.
The statement came in the wake of this month’s row over stark discrepancies between the Chinese and Portuguese versions of Article 150 of the Legislative Election Law.
The Chinese version of the article states that fines are to be imposed on those who have nominated the same person for different candidature lists in the same election, whereas the Portuguese version states that anyone who proposes candidacies that are competing with each other in the same election will be fined.
CAEAL President Tong Hio Fong told reporters last week his committee thought that the Portuguese version of the law was “more accurate” than its Chinese counterpart.
Sunday’s statement reaffirmed Tong’s view by stating that after a “systematic interpretation” of the law, the committee “considers the Portuguese version to be closer to the original legislative intent”than its Chinese counterpart.
The Election Law was passed by the legislature in 2001, widely based on a law promulgated in 1991, i.e. nearly a decade before the city’s transfer of administration in 1999.
The statement also underlined that Article 150 of the law passed in 2001 was never changed, unlike other articles of the law which underwent various amendments in 2008, 2012 and last year.
In the statement, the committee urged citizens that they are only entitled to sign the nomination form of one candidature list and that the signing of various such forms for the same electoral process is a breach of the law.