Lawmakers passed on Tuesday a motion by lawmaker-cum-unionist Jose Pereira Coutinho to express the legislature’s deep sorrow over the demise of former Portuguese president Mário Soares who passed away in Lisbon on January 7, aged 92.
According to the Legislative Assembly Procedure Rules, lawmakers can present a motion to “express a wish”. Article 50 of the rules says that the “wishes” a lawmaker can express concern congratulations, condolences, greetings, praise, objection and censure.
Coutinho’s motion was passed by 13 lawmakers, with five lawmakers opposing it, while two lawmakers abstained from voting. A total of 12 legislators were absent and, as is customary, the speaker of the legislature did not vote.
Soares served as president of Portugal from 1986 to 1996. Soares, who visited Macau four times, oversaw Macau matters during his decade-long presidency and as prime minister and foreign minister before his presidential term pushed for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Portuguese Republic and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979.
However, contrary to recent Hong Kong media reports, Soares did not “negotiate” Macau’s return to Chinese “sovereignty”. The Sino-Portuguese negotiations on the “question of Macau” were conducted by the Portuguese government.
In Portugal, the presidency and the government are separate entities. Portugal unilaterally relinquished all its claims of sovereignty over its “overseas provinces” shortly after the anti-colonial Carnation Revolution in 1974. Besides, Beijing did not recognise foreign countries’ sovereignty over Chinese soil.
Coutinho said that Soares greatly contributed to the development of amicable ties between Lisbon and Beijing.
President Xi Jinping said in his condolence message earlier this month that Soares was an “old” friend of the Chinese people and that he enormously contributed to the strengthening of Sino-Portuguese relations and the solving of the “question of Macau”, Coutinho said.
Coutinho also said that Xi and Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On had expressed deep sorrow over Soares’s passing, adding that it was therefore proper for the legislature to also express its deep sorrow. In his condolence message, Chui had praised Soares as an “excellent” political leader.