sexta-feira, 14 de agosto de 2009

A compra de votos em Macau

New rules set to cut vote-buying in next month's poll
Scrapping of permits welcomed

Fox Yi Hu
South China Morning Post
August 14, 2009

Elections to return 12 lawmakers in Macau next month are expected to see much less of the vote-buying that was common in the 2005 poll.

A change in voting rules and growing democratic awareness among the public are believed to be thwarting acts of electoral fraud.

Chan Seak-hou, deputy commissioner of the Commission Against Corruption of Macau, said scrapping voter permits would also help.

"We are scrapping the voter permits for the first time and its effect has been noticeable," Mr Chan said.

It is widely known that in the 2005 poll, voter permits had a price of 500 patacas. Those receiving the cash would hand their permits to vote-buying agents, who returned them on election day, with the expectation that the voter would opt for the favoured candidate.

But the government has decided to do away with such permits and allow registered voters to simply use their Macau identity cards when casting their ballots.

"Identity cards are not like voter permits, which can be easily given to others," Mr Chan said.

The anti-graft body said it had received 102 complaints about the upcoming election, down about 50 per cent from the period leading up to the 2005 legislative poll. Some complaints were made against the breach of a campaigning ban, while others were upset by the offer of dinners to potential voters in the name of celebrating the 10th anniversary of Macau's handover to China.

Under Macau's legislative election law, campaigning is allowed only in the 15 days before the poll, which will be held on September 20.

Mr Chan said the drop in complaints was largely due to the scrapping of voter permits. The anti-graft body will hold seminars and outdoor shows to educate people about voting and warn them against taking bribes in the election.

It said campaigns would also be launched to educate young people, who account for half of the 30,000 newly registered voters.

Political commentator and Macau observer Camoes Tam Chi-keung said young people especially were increasingly aware of electoral democracy and therefore reluctant to trade their ballots.

"The younger generation make light of the few hundred patacas offered to them," Dr Tam said, "A candidate's election pledges matter more to them."

But he said it was still difficult to stamp out vote-buying in Macau.

"Ballot-buying will become less open and take different forms."

The 2005 legislative poll was plagued with scandals ranging from minor bribes to direct vote-buying and an attack on a journalist at a polling station. Police and graft-busters arrested dozens of suspects, leading to four trials for ballot-buying. Wu Lin, a running mate of legislators Chan Meng-kam and Ung Choi-kun, was jailed for four years in 2007.

In June, huge posters appeared on the outer walls of two buildings in Macau Peninsula, promoting two key candidates of an election team.

Some dinner parties funded by the government to mark both the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the 10th anniversary of Macau's handover to China have prompted complaints in relation to the election.

The government has launched a costly scheme to mark the two occasions, allowing social groups to apply for subsidies of up to 300 patacas per participant for organising celebrations, with each Macau resident limited to just one such event.

Many of the events, locally known as "double celebration", have turned out to be dinner parties with lucky draws. According to the local press, more than 500 groups have applied for subsidies for 400,000 residents. The government would be spending 120 million patacas if it gave 300 patacas for each of the 400,000.

Dr Tam said the double celebration events ahead of the election provided opportunities to buy votes.