Bit by bit

209

The New Macau Association (NMA) filed a complaint yesterday to the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) demanding an investigation of the police authorities for suppression of the right of assembly.
According to the NMA Vice-President, Jason Teng Hei Chao, the incident that led to the complaint took place on March 24 during an assembly held by the NMA to gather citizens’ views on the group’s political platform for the 2017 Legislative Assembly elections.
“A police officer approached the NMA organizers and threatened with criminal prosecution for the use of a loudspeaker system. The officer came from the Taipa police station and was sent by his superiors to deliver the warning, and after a quarrel that lasted half an hour the event was brought to an end,” Mr. Chao said to the press.
According to the NMA Vice-President under the MSAR Basic Law the police can impose restrictions on the time and space of the assembly in question through a written communication previous to the assembly, with the law not allowing restrictions on equipment used.
However since the restraint was effected verbally on-site through the threat of criminal prosecution, it deprived the assembly organizers of the right to appeal to restriction requests by the police to the Court of Final Appeal.
“The freedom of expression and civil liberties of Macau residents are being eaten bit by bit. Freedom is rarely lost overnight and there’s a lot of subtle methods by authorities to shrink the space of civil liberties. So I’ll use my last hours as the Vice-President of NMA to defend the freedom of association and expression,” Mr. Chao stated.
The activist stated previous complaints filed by the association during the tenure of the previous head of the CCAC, Vasco Fong Man Chong, were considered valid by the department, with Mr. Chao saying he hoped the current person responsible, André Cheong Weng Chon, will have the same decision.
“It’s too hard to say for sure, as we’re losing our faith in the independence of the judiciary,” he added.

Powerful deterrent
The complaint was the last action held by the local activist as Vice-President of the NMA, having resigned his position in the association last month to launch a civil platform to monitor this year’s MSAR elections.
When asked on the recent purchase by the local government of anti-rioting equipment the activist questioned its utility on the territory.
“I don’t think large scale riots will occur in Macau. I think the purpose is as a deterrent for residents to join protests as it generates an expectation of violence (…) I can’t say there will be an increase in incidents before the elections, but we should stand against all attempts against civil liberties,” he added.
Business Daily asked the Public Security Police Force (PSP) about the incident mentioned by NMA, but although the department is said to be preparing a statement, nothing was received when this newspaper went to print.