HONG KONG Sep 3An unofficial referendum on
democracy in the southern Chinese gambling hub of Macau showed
89 percent of nearly 9,000 people who took part don't trust
their leader, who was re-elected on Sunday as the sole
An official panel elects Macau's leader, similar to
neighbouring Hong Kong where a committee of largely pro-Beijing
loyalists chooses who gets on the ballot, effectively rendering
the ability to vote meaningless.
Fernando Chui was returned to office by a panel of 400
largely pro-China loyalists in Macau, a former Portuguese
Data released on the poll's online site showed that 7,762 of
8,688 voters did not have confidence in Chui, while 95 percent
of the voters said they supported universal suffrage by 2019.
Authorities were quick to disrupt the unofficial poll,
shutting polling booths and arresting five people for breaching
"We are still very vulnerable to police harassment," Jason
Chao, 27, one of the organisers, said.
"The Chinese government was the one who ordered the rampant
suppression of the civil referendum initiatives. Now the Chinese
government wants to be tougher against civil movements in Macau
and Hong Kong."
Activist groups in Macau had staged the unofficial
referendum among the 600,000 residents to coincide with Sunday's
re-election, following a similar informal vote in the former
British colony of nearby Hong Kong.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, followed two
years later by Macau, now the world's biggest gambling centre.
Both enjoy wide-ranging autonomy and free speech not
permitted on the mainland, but Communist Party leaders in
Beijing fear calls for democracy in the "special administrative
regions", as Hong Kong and Macau are known, could spread to
cities on the mainland.
Macau authorities have moved to smother civil movements,
taking a harder line than in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy
activists have been pushing for universal suffrage, prompting a
clash with police on Monday after China ruled out full
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Nick Macfie)