People power starts to ignite

People power starts to ignite

People power forced Macau's Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on to scrap a controversial bill that would have granted lavish retirement packages for top officials.

The proposed law had also sought to grant chief executives immunity from prosecution while in office.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets at the end of last month to oppose the bill. It was thought to be the largest march in the former Portuguese colony since the 1999 handover. They had called for Chui to resign if he refused to withdraw the proposals.

Similar to Hong Kong, Macau's chief executive was indirectly elected through a 300-member Electoral College. Lawmakers also don't face much competition in the Legislative Council elections.

Macau's economy relies heavily on the gambling industry, and has been suffering from serious income inequality. Also, property prices are rising fast.

Unlike Hong Kong, political reform there has been rarely discussed in public; people seldom feel the need to fight for true democracy.

Chui is seeking a new five-year term in August's election. Although the Electoral College now comprises 400 members, the whole process will still be decided by a limited number of people.

Have those protests sparked an interest in democracy in Macau? A record crowd of more than 3,000 took part in this year's June 4 vigil - the largest for 25 years.

Perhaps hopes for fair and genuine universal suffrage in Macau may finally have been lit.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
People power starts to ignite


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