Macau has suspended a pro-democracy lawmaker for alleged "disobedience" after he demonstated on the street instead of staying on a sidewalk during a protest, reports Reuters news service. Local activists contend that suppression of civil rights is growing in the China-ruled gambling hub.
In 1999 the former Portuguese colony returned to China under a "one country, two systems" model allowing a free press and an independent judiciary. Certain activities such as gambling are allowed on Macau but denied on the mainland.
Critics of the Chinese government believe the suspension, the first since 1999, could be a signal authorities intend to follow a path similar to that of former British colony Hong Kong, which has jailed several pro-democracy activists in the past year.
"This may be the beginning of the death sentence to Macau's rule of law, and it will end up having an impact in the casino industry," Jorge Menezes, a lawyer who has lived in Macau since 1997, told Reuters.
Macau remains the world's biggest gambling mecca featuring a major presence of many major casino/resort companies such as Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International, Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment and SJM Holdings.