Two leaders of an unofficial “referendum” on Macau’s chief executive election and three other activists were detained yesterday as police shut down polling stations. Officers raided all five referendum polling stations within hours of the launch of the seven-day ballot, which asked locals if they had confidence in Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on and wanted universal suffrage at the next election. The detained included Scott Chiang Meng-hin, a key member of the New Macau Association, the most prominent democratic group in the former Portuguese enclave. Also detained was Jason Chao Teng-hei – leader of Open Macau Society, co-organisers of the poll with Macau Conscience and Macau Youth Dynamics.
Pundits and pan-democrats lambasted Chui – who is standing unopposed for a second five-year term – for disregarding the city’s freedom of expression under the Basic Law, ahead of his guaranteed victory next Sunday. Only 400 people are eligible to vote in the election.
Yang Chongwei, deputy coordinator of the Office for Personal Data Protection, said: “It is inherently illegitimate for personal information to be collected and handled for the purpose of the so-called civil referendum.”
The authorities were targeting only “the relevant body”, and as for individuals, it was a “personal choice” to submit personal information to any groups, Yang said at a rare joint press conference with the police.
All five activists were later released.