Quo vadis freedom


The Joint Declaration inked by the People’s Republic of China and Portugal which permitted the handover of the administration of Macau to the PRC states that the previous regime of freedoms would not be affected (i.e.) the Macau Special Administrative Region would continue with the same freedoms as before 20 December 1999.
In the course of almost 18 years, what we have seen in various aspects of the behaviour of the authorities contravenes this Joint Declaration and, consequently, the Basic Law.
This week, in a Portuguese newspaper, one of our veteran journalists who works for Macau Television spoke of a Kafkaesque process which landed her in jail for an offence she was never notified about. In a nutshell, she changed her address in all departments of Macau except for her car registration, which remained the same. Thus, and due to a speeding ticket, a process was undertaken in court completely without her knowledge.
When she arrived in Macau she was detained and put in jail for some time. Such situations, where the freedoms of the individual are put in cause are increasing to the prejudice of the spirit of the law and of the system. Macau is what it is today because of the Joint Declaration and of the Basic Law and all situations like this contravene what the legislators had in mind.
Macau enjoys a unique situation, even in terms of comparative law. It is, together with Hong Kong, the corollary of the principle ‘One Country, Two Systems’ as envisaged by Deng Xiao Ping.
Whilst conducting their duties, all officials should bear this in mind and try to adapt and administer in the spirit of serving the citizens.
The same applies to the registration system. Recently chatting with some friends in the legal field, it was suggested that we should be able to only change our address in one department with all entities linked to that address. This would help a lot to prevent cases such as the one concerning the aforementioned journalist. It would also be very efficient in terms of notification and in terms of saving time for all of us who need to change address when we move to a different home.
It is not difficult, I am sure; thus, I suggest that this be done promptly.