Macau’s Electoral Affairs Commission for the 2017 Legislative Assembly Election has warned the local casino operators not to intervene in the upcoming electoral campaign for the city’s legislature.
The guidance was issued after members of the Electoral Affairs Commission met on Wednesday representatives of the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Both said they would work to ensure casinos remained neutral and impartial throughout the electoral process, and would not support particular candidates.
The election is scheduled for September 17.
Macau’s revised electoral regulations for the Legislative Assembly, approved in 2016, explicitly state that Macau’s casino concessionaires cannot, either directly or indirectly, intervene in electoral campaign activities; nor can they carry out actions that will favour or harm one electoral ticket.
In previous elections, there were complaints by candidates that some casino operators were allegedly promoting to their workforce – namely in back-of-the-house areas – opposing candidates.
The gaming industry is the single-biggest employer in Macau. According to the city’s latest employment survey, the sector employed more than 80,000 workers in the first quarter of 2017.
In Macau, some seats in the Legislative Assembly are apportioned via direct election, some via indirect elections and some via appointment by the city’s chief executive.
Several incumbent directly-elected legislators have ties to the local gaming industry.
Angela Leong On Kei, an executive director of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd, has successfully campaigned three times in Macau for a directly-elected seat on the Legislative Assembly. Zheng Anting, a local junket representative, first campaigned – and successfully – for a directly-elected seat in 2013. He was the second candidate on an electoral ticket headed by Mak Soi Kun, a businessman involved in real estate.
Chan Meng Kam, a veteran legislator, is the president of Golden Dragon Group Co Ltd, which runs Casino Golden Dragon and Casino Taipa Square. Both venues make use – under what is known as a service contract – of the gaming licence of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings.
Directly-elected legislator Melinda Chan Mei Yi is the wife of David Chow Kam Fai, co-chairman and chief executive of casino services firm Macau Legend Development Ltd. Mr Chow is himself a former legislator.
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