Premium Macau Legislative Assembly hires Portuguese judge for adviser role

Judge Maria José Machado (on the left) participated in campaigns for the Socialist Party. Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues was acquitted by the Court of Appeal of Lisbon for the crime of abuse of political office.

In the recent past, the magistrate in question was given a warning by the Portuguese Superior Council of Magistracy for having participated in several election campaign actions in the 2013 municipal elections, beside her husband, Socialist Party candidate to the Municipality of Albufeira, Algarve.

The Macau Legislative Assembly (MLA) has hired a Portuguese judge to act as an advisor, TDM - Macau Radio reported today. Maria José Machado takes up duties this Wednesday, January 9th, for a period of two years.

Maria José Machado is a name known to the Portuguese public for being linked to the case against former Minister of Education, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, charged with a crime of maladministration by a political officer, back in 2015. The minister was actually sentenced, at first instance, to a suspended sentence of three years and six months, but was ultimately acquitted by the Lisbon Court of Appeal. Maria José Machado was, together with other judges, a rapporteur of the document.

At the time, with the ruling that cleared the former minister, information arose about the connection of Judge Maria José Machado to the Socialist Party. It is a fact that, in 2013, the magistrate participated in several political campaigns for local government with her husband, who, at the time, was elected mayor of Albufeira. The controversy settled when the magistrate declared to Diário de Notícias: "I was not involved in the campaign, I was only present at three situations as the candidate's wife, because I believed it was my duty."

Even afer justifying her appearances in the electoral campaign, Maria José Machado was warned by the Superior Council of Magistracy, which applied an "unregistered warning". According to that judicial management and discipline body, the judge violated Article 11(1) of the Statute of Judicial Magistrates, which prohibits judges from engaging in political-partisan activities of a public nature. The warning penalty is the lowest provided for in the disciplinary statutes applicable to judges, consisting of "a mere retraction or reprimand"


We should recall that the appointment of the Portuguese magistrate comes after the departure of two Portuguese legal advisers from the MLA, Paulo Cardinal and Paulo Taipa, whose employment contracts ended and were not renewed at the end of the year.

Back in August, the president of the MLA, Ho Iat Seng, justified the option of not renewing the contracts of the two lawyers with the need to renew the legal counsel staff. Voices within Macau's Portuguese community insurged against what happened, accusing the MLA of - among other things - discriminating against the Portuguese, which the choice of Maria José Machado also came to disprove. Moreover, in recent months, local authorities have hired several portuguese senior professionals, as evidenced by the arrival of a judge for the Office of the Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, or the hiring of a lawyer who formerly worked for the Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Lisbon for the Office of Protocol, Public Relations and External Affairs.