High-profile lawmaker Jose Pereira Coutinho said on Tuesday he was not worried that his two sons’ alleged drug trafficking could have a negative impact on his re-election bid next year, adding that both were adults and he could not watch their every move.
Coutinho made the remarks during a special press conference at the headquarters of the Macau Civil Servants Association (ATFPM) to “clarify recent news reports” about his sons’ alleged cross-border drug trafficking case.
Coutinho is the association’s president. Several dozen ATFPM members attended the press conference. They frequently applauded Coutinho’s remarks.
According to a Judiciary Police (PJ) press conference last week, the two suspects are aged 31 and 27.
A Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesperson said during Thursday’s press conference that the brothers were arrested in the city centre on the previous day. A kilogramme of marijuana was found on the duo, according to the spokesperson who put the estimated street value of the drugs at half a million patacas.
Apart from the two Coutinho brothers, another suspect was also arrested on that day.
The spokesperson also said the police suspected the brothers of membership of a cross-border drug trafficking gang, adding that several other suspects were still at large.
Addressing Tuesday’s press conference, Coutinho said he was very upset about his sons, who were raised in Canada, adding that the main purpose of holding the press conference was to express his gratitude towards all those who supported him in the wake of last week’s news about the case.
Coutinho declined to answer reporters’ questions about the case, insisting that he could not say “too much” since the case is still under investigation. He also said his wife and sons were just ordinary residents, urging the public to respect their privacy.
However, Coutinho did mention that his 31-year-old son has remained in custody while his 27-year-old son has been released on bail.
Asked by reporters if he worried that the case could have an adverse impact on his running in next year’s direct legislative election, Coutinho said he believed Macau people would evaluate the case themselves, adding that residents would judge him fairly.
Meanwhile, when asked by a reporter whether he felt that he should take responsibility for the case involving his two sons, Coutinho asked rhetorically: “If you were me, would you resign because of the case?”
Coutinho acknowledged that during his nearly 12 years as a lawmaker he may have paid insufficient attention to his family. However, he was quick to add that it was “useless” to delve into the past.
The veteran lawmaker-cum-unionist also admitted that this was a “difficult moment” and a “painful situation” for him.
He also said that he was “evidently” ready to seek re-election next year.
(Macau News / The Macau Post Daily)