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Special> 15th Anniversary of Macao's Reunification With China> Opinion
UPDATED: December 18, 2014
Macao Seeing Expanded Legislative Authority: Speaker

Macao has seen an enlarged legislative power since its return to the motherland in 1999, which was unimaginable when Macao was ruled by Portugal, said Ho Iat Seng, president of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR)'s Legislative Assembly.

"The law-making body has been enjoying an expanded legislative authority since its establishment in December 1999," Ho told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.

Under the colonial rule, Ho said, Portugal-assigned governors had the authority to enact and issue laws and decrees, a power shared by the then legislative body.

The governors had issued more than 70 percent of the laws and decrees during the colonial period.

The Macao SAR's Legislative Assembly had promulgated 208 laws till this November, a development which Ho said should be credited to the implementation of the principal of "One country, Two systems" and the Basic Law.

"Under the Basic Law, the Legislative Assembly enacts, revises, suspends and abolishes laws, making distinction between the legislative authority and the administrative power, realizing the legislative arm's supervision of the SAR government and helping residents participate in the law-making process," Ho said.

However, under the colonial era's election law for Macao's first legislative election in 1976, only residents donning Portuguese nationalities had the privilege to vote and run.

The colonial administration offered the Chinese residents the right to vote and run in 1984.

After Macao returned to the motherland, the local people became masters of the region, he said.

According to him, the Macao SAR's first Legislative Assembly featured 23 members, the second 27, the third and fourth 29 and the fifth 33.

"There are three categories among all the Legislative Assembly members, including those from the direct election, those from indirect subsector election and those from the supplementary designation of the chief executive," said Ho.

"This formation features wide representation from the local citizens, securing their say in the Legislative Assembly," he added.

Ho, joining the law-making body in its fourth edition, said the members and the staff often work around the clock, driven by their strong sense of responsibility.

"Right after Macao's return, the SAR government had a treasury of merely 13 billion patacas ($1.6 billion), and the government could only manage a tight balance of payments. Thanks to the fast economic development, the exchequer swelled to 500 billion patacas ($61.5 billion) at the end of 2013. We established and improved the fiscal reserve system by means of legislation, helping the voters supervise the government spending," said Ho.

The Legislative Assembly speaker said he attaches great importance to the connection with the general public.

"The members of the assembly have built close ties with the people and some of the lawmakers have even set up offices in downtown streets to facilitate communication with local residents, " said Ho.

To strengthen the oversight of the public, the Legislative Assembly invites local TV channels to live broadcast all its sessions while forming supervision committees for land project approval and public finance and administration affairs.

Ho, 57, has been a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature of China, since 2001.

He said the Central Government has fully approved Macao's legislative power, making his job very smooth in the Legislative Assembly.

"It is joyful to dedicate my efforts to the legislative works of the nation and the region," Ho said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2014)

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