Macau will go to the polls on Sunday for its fifth Legislative Assembly election, in an event marked more by its lack of coverage or campaigning than anything else.
As the SCMP reports, the city’s Electoral Affairs Commission outlawed the use of commercial advertising by candidates up for election. There is also widespread apathy about voting among a populace grown fat on gambling dividends.
He admits that Macau residents are “short-sighted” and easily satisfied by the lucrative cash handouts the government has taken to dishing out from its share of the gambling boom.
“I guess Macau citizens take universal suffrage less seriously than Hongkongers,” he said. “If you ask me to call for democracy on the internet or telephone, I might do it. But on the street? Perhaps not. I do not want to waste my time on something you could never achieve.”
Former chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah first introduced the cash handouts. He announced his administration would give 5,000 patacas to each permanent resident and 3,000 to non-permanent residents in 2008. By last year the annual cash handout for permanent and non-permanent residents had reached 8,000 and 4,800 patacas respectively.
“It’s like Hong Kong in the 1970s, when everyone indulged in the economic growth and very few were concerned about social conflicts,” Yu, a Hong Kong native, said of today’s Macau.
Analysts predict that if Hong Kong goes ahead with a free election in 2017 (already a somewhat unlikely prospect), that will kick start the nascent pro-democracy campaign in Macau.
[Image credit: @kaiban]