Articles 8 and 18 of the Macao Basic Law guarantee that “the laws previously in force in Macao” shall be maintained, yet no modern legal treatise looks further back than its immediate predecessor – the Organic Statute of 1976 – for contextual inspiration. While this reflects civil law ideology, it dismisses the special characteristics of the native context, where a peculiar legal culture has developed within a unique constitutional setting since at least 1557. Always enjoying some degree of autonomy from both Lisbon and Beijing, Macao possesses a distinctive legacy that remains under-appreciated despite its potential contributions to local, national, and international constitutional discourse. My PhD dissertation aims to provide the first comprehensive constitutional history of Macao from its settlement by Portuguese merchants in the mid-16th century to its return to Chinese administration in 1999.
Hualing Fu (primary) and Albert Chen (co-supervisor). Note on images: (top) Macao’s distinctive street signs of blue and white Portuguese-style porcelain display the city’s eclectic heritage. This one honours Sun Yat-sen – the “Father of Modern China” and graduate of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (predecessor of the HKU medical faculty) – who planned many revolutionary activities from Macao. (bottom) The Leal Senado (Loyal Senate) enjoyed supremacy among the local separation of powers for two centuries: from its establishment in 1583 until the dispatch of letters patent from Queen Dona Maria I in 1783. Its former building in Senate Square is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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