Macao kicks off consultations on amending national security law

This July 11, 2022 photo shows the famous Grand Lisboa (center) in Macao closed, after casinos and most other businesses were ordered to close while the city fought a coronavirus outbreak. (KONG / AP)

The Macao Special Administrative Region is set to amend its Law on Safeguarding National Security in line with national security standards to deal with the “intensive and challenging changes” in the international and regional security environment. 

A 45-day public consultation exercise on the amendments was launched on Monday. The Macao SAR government is expected to complete a report by the end of October and submit the proposals to the legislature in early November. 

The proposed changes include altering the offense of “subversion against the Central People’s Government” to “subversion of State power”, according to the consultation document

The proposed changes include altering the offense of “subversion against the Central People’s Government” to “subversion of State power”, according to the consultation document. The charge will also be extended to cover non-violent offenses, with the “abetting or supporting sedition” offense added.

The consultation document also says refining the criminal law stipulations is the focus of the amendments to the Law on Safeguarding National Security.

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Macao’s Secretary for Security Wong Sio-chak said the changes are aimed at keeping the city’s security law in sync with those of the nation and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and aligning Macao with national security standards.  

The move is expected to upgrade Macao’s ability to coordinate and administer national security affairs; comprehensively prevent and penalize offenses against national security; effectively prevent interference by external forces; safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests; and maintain Macao’s prosperity and stability. 

Citing the 2019 social unrest in Hong Kong and the recent visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, Wong said the global and regional security environment is facing intensive changes, while the development of national security and Macao’s safety are encountering more, new and severe problems and challenges. 

“To effectively tackle such complicated and volatile security risks, safeguard national security and the long-term stability of Macao, and ensure the stable and long-lasting implementation of ‘one country, two systems’, the Law on Safeguarding National Security must keep itself abreast with the times to meet the latest needs and objective demands relating to safeguarding overall national security,” Wong said.

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To rectify the problems and inadequacies in its existing laws, the Macao SAR government is drawing up the roadmap to make them perfect, strengthen the foundation and core functions of the law, improve the system for accusations and imputations, and rationally adjust categorizing crimes and criminal behavior. More methods will be used for gathering information concerning security, and thwarting covert activities. 

Eight consultation sessions will be held. Three of them are open to all Macao residents and the others to stakeholders in specific sectors, such as the political, legal, economic and financial fields. 

The Macao SAR introduced its National Security Law in 2009.