Newly-elected Legislative Assembly (AL) President Ho Iat Seng voiced his support Wednesday on broadcasting the legislature’s plenary sessions in full as a way to improve the public’s right to information and monitor the performance of lawmakers and government officials.
Ho spoke to journalists after hosting the first plenary session in the new legislative term.
The lawmaker-cum-businessman, who was elected by his peers to succeed Lau Cheok Va, said that according to the legislature’s regulations, the media is not prohibited from filming the entirety of the legislature’s plenary sessions.
Ho was vice-president of the legislature in the previous term.
“We welcome cameramen to film the sessions, as long as they are the media, we’ll let them in,”Ho was quoted by The Macau Post Daily as saying. “It is up to TV networks to decide whether or not they want to broadcast them live or tape them… we can’t do anything if they don’t show up.”
Traditionally, the legislature’s plenary sessions are only broadcast live on special occasions, such as Q&A sessions involving top government officials and the annual budget debates.
However, he said it would be impossible to broadcast the legislature’s committee meetings, pointing out that its regulations disallow this because they involve confidential matters and details of bills which might be changed throughout the discussions.
Ho added he hoped that lawmakers would have more power to monitor the government’s financial matters, in particular its budgets for large-scale construction projects. He argued one of the reasons behind the government’s overspending on projects was due to the fact that the Budget Framework Law has still not been amended. The veteran lawmakers also said that the government’s budgets should be better regulated to avoid excessive spending.
Ho received 30 of the 33 votes cast. Two votes were blank and one vote was for directly-elected lawmaker Chan Meng Kam.
He also said that lawmakers and the public should realise that local laws are different to those in Hong Kong due to the two cities’ different legal systems, as Macau follows the European continental law system while Hong Kong uses the common law system.
Fellow lawmaker-cum-unionist Lam Heong Sang was elected the legislature’s vice president, while lawmakers Chui Sai Cheong and Kou Hoi In were re-elected the legislature’s first and second secretaries respectively.
Lam, a vice-president of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (Gung Luen), garnered 27 votes. There were three blank votes and three votes for other lawmakers. The legislature has 33 members – 14 directly elected by popular vote, 12 indirectly elected by association representatives and seven appointed by the chief executive.
Echoing Ho’s statements, Lam said he also believed that the Budget Framework Law should be amended so that the government’s finances can be better monitored.(macaunews)