quinta-feira, 18 de junho de 2009

O líder abençoado

Macau's Anointed Leader
The territory doesn't even pretend to have a real election

The Wall Street Journal Asia (*)
Thursday, June 18

While students protest vote-rigging in Iran, in Macau, there's no such democracy fight. In China's special administrative region, there isn't even the pretense of an election.

This week Fernando Chui Sai-on declared himself the sole candidate for Macau's chief executive election. China's state-run news agency confirmed that the former culture minister received 286 nominations from Macau's 300-member election committee, most of whom are either directly appointed by Beijing or have significant ties to it through family or business. A minimum of 50 votes are needed to run for office. So come July 26, the official "election day," the 300 committee members will "vote" with only one name on the ballot.

We have no reason to doubt Mr. Chiu's good intentions. He told a local newspaper Tuesday that "I'll use different channels to listen to people's views and hopefully achieve consensus with Macau residents to ensure Macau's long-term prosperity and stability."

But Mr. Chiu's incentive isn't to listen to the Macanese people because he isn't accountable to them. Macau's chief executive answers primarily to Beijing, operating with few checks or balances from the legislative and judicial branches. The fourth estate, the press, self censors; antidefamation laws discourage citizens from speaking out. The bloggers who ventured to criticize Mr. Chiu when there was still the prospect of other contenders have now fallen silent.

In the past, citizens have made their views heard by heading onto the streets. In 2007 2,000 Macanese deviated from a May Day parade route and protested against illegal workers and corruption. The government sent in riot police, but officials also promised to revise laws and decrease the influx of illegal workers. There is no "mechanism" that Mr. Chiu can "construct" to substitute for free speech and accountable government.

Macau is a far freer place than Iran, and its citizens have more rights. But like Iran, free and fair elections is not one of them.

(*) Os negritos são, naturalmente, da minha responsabilidade.

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