MACAU: ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT QUID PRO QUO?

Last week, Macau’s Chief Executive, Edmund Ho, proposed enabling legislation on Article 23 of the Macau’s mini-constitution. This article states that “Macau shall enact laws, on its own, to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against” the Beijing government. The law, if passed, would be a major blow to free speech in Macau. It’s not a half court shot to assume that Beijing would be pleased.

We believe the law is likely to pass although it is by no means a slam dunk. Government officials tried it in Hong Kong five years ago but pro-democracy forces put the full court press on and stymied it. Macau is a different place without the democratic and freedom roots dug so deep as in Hong Kong.

Aside from supporting our pro-capitalism and pro-freedom teammates around the world why do we care? Mr. Ho is likely making this proposal for one or two of the following reasons:

• Curry favor with Beijing for a cushy job at the end of his stint as CE of Macau late next year
• Another attempt at a quid pro quo with Beijing regarding loosening visa restrictions

I don’t care much about what team Mr. Ho plays on in 2010 but any loosening of the current Guandong visa restrictions could spark a rebound for Macau casinos.

I doubt Macau will put up the same fight as Hong Kong