Organizers of a referendum on Macau’s electoral process were arrested over the weekend in a move some say shows China’s nervousness over universal suffrage in the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong. The five arrested included the organizers of the referendum and representatives from local pro-democratic groups Macau Conscience, Macao Youth Dynamics and Open Macau Society. The referendum was to be a week-long informal poll on the electoral system of the city’s Chief Executive post. “Although it is described as a referendum it may well lead to activities that the Chinese government may consider subversive and may even lead to secession, so I think this explains the arrests,” said Simon Young, Associate Dean at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law.
The referendum was to take place from August 24 – 30 at both online and physical polling stations. Participants were required to give their identification and mobile numbers when voting. Macau police said this was a violation of a local personal data protection law. “It is inherently illegitimate for personal information to be collected and handled by poll organizers,” said Yang Chongwei, deputy coordinator of the Macau Office for Personal Data Protection.
But Jason Chao, president of the Open Macau Society and one of the five detained by police, told VOA the charges were politically motivated. “My collection of personal data from the citizens is lawful because I have because I have obtained the citizen’s consent prior to processing their data,” he explained. “And after verifying the results of the referendum, the personal data will be permanently deleted. But in our case, the government is using whatever means possible to suppress our referendum.”
Full Article: Macau Referendum Organizers Arrested.