When responding to media inquiries about the New Macao Association’s complaint on the “breakfast incident”, the Commissioner Against Corruption yesterday said that the notion that “even just one dollar can be considered an advantage” should not be adopted as a criterion for law enforcement, otherwise the act of giving away tissue packets printed with electioneering information during the electoral campaign period may also constitute electoral bribery.
It has come to the attention of the CCAC that a member of the New Macao Association commented on online media platforms that the giving away of tissue packets takes place during the electoral campaign period, and as such, is a normal electioneering activity and should not be considered electoral bribery. In response, the CCAC clarifies that, according to the law, it may constitute electoral bribery whenever an advantage is provided to affect the electors’ voting intention. Therefore, the law must apply to the electoral campaign period as well.
Beyond doubt, giving away tissue packets is to draw electors’ votes for a candidate list. Nonetheless, taking account of the very low value of a tissue packet, the CCAC regards it as an electioneering activity instead of electoral bribery. To put it another way, no matter whether “a tissue packet and a bottle of water” or “a bun and a box of soya milk” are given away, such items have their own value but their values are not high enough to influence the electors’ voting intention, thus it is not likely that distribution of such items constitutes electoral bribery.
He also stated on the social media that “The value of the breakfast may not constitute illegality but the act of giving away the breakfast does”, which seems that they no longer insisted on the viewpoint that “even one dollar will constitute electoral bribery”, but they still considered that the “breakfast incident” should be deemed as illegal electioneering as it took place on the Election Day during which electoral propaganda was prohibited.
The CCAC points out that according to the Electoral Law of the Legislative Assembly, “electoral propaganda” shall contain two key contents including “calling for public attention to certain candidate(s)” and “suggesting, implicitly or explicitly, that voters vote or not vote for certain candidate(s)”. Following the investigation of the “breakfast incident” on the Election Day and afterwards, the CCAC found no evidence to prove that there were electioneering activities carried out in public places.
The CCAC would like to reiterate that although providing breakfast for members is a regular community service, of which the purpose is not related to the elections, the act of inducing members to vote in a certain direction should not be carried out. The CCAC considers that the public’s attention to and discussion about the “breakfast incident” will have a positive effect on the clarification of the legal provisions about electoral bribery and the promotion of a clean election culture.