Macau poll hit by vote-buy claims

More than 141,000 voters – representing a 57 percent turnout – went to the polls for Macau’s Legislative Assembly election that was marred by at least 14 complaints of ballot-buying.

Voting for 12 elected legislators of the fourth legislative assembly got under way at 9am at 28 polling stations, with polls closing at 9pm.

A total of 122 candidates from 16 groups were competing for the directly elected seats.

Results will be known by early today.

By 8pm yesterday, of 250,000 registered voters, 141,911 had turned up for the poll, representing a 57.06 percent turnout.

The 2005 election had a 58.39 percent voter turnout out of 220,653 registered voters – 29,300 less than this year.

The 2005 registered voter count was higher than the 2001 election.

Macau’s Procurator-General Ho Chio Meng said, so far, 14 complaints of alleged vote buying had been received.

Ho said the nature of the offenses reported and the volume of cases were more severe than the previous election, and investigations will be conducted. The Procuratorate would also be following up bribery cases with the ICAC.

Macau’s legislature consists of 29 members, 12 of whom are directly elected. Ten members fill the indirectly elected seats, but all 10 seats went uncontested for this election, as there were only 10 candidates, including Chief Executive-elect Fernando Chui Sai On’s brother, Chui Sai Cheong, who represents the professional sector.

Seven members are designated by the chief executive himself.

Angela Leong On-kei, fourth wife of casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, who was a directly elected member in the 2005 election under her party, Nova Unio para Desenvolvimento de Macau, was in the running again this year and a favorite to win.

Other candidates included Mak Soi- kun, from the pro-Beijing platform, Unio Macau-Guangdong, and Chan Meng- kam, for the gaming platform, Associao dos Cidados Unidos de Macau.

There are about 250,000 registered voters, comprising 46 percent of the city’s 540,000 citizens. This marked a 13.25 percent rise from the number of registered voters in 2005.

As of noon yesterday, turnout at the 28 polling stations was 20.1 percent, reaching 43.56 percent by 5pm.

Candidates were banned from wearing campaign gear on election day.

However, shuttle buses were deployed to take voters directly to polling stations to bolster turnout.

There were also media reports that supporters of one candidate were offering HK$1 buffets to potential voters.


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