Suspended sentence for aiding vote rigger
A man who claimed he was manipulated into helping rig a district council election last year was given a suspended sentence and a dressing down by a magistrate yesterday.
Li Kin-yuen, 53, pleaded guilty to being reckless in making a statement on a voter registration form before last year's elections.
Deputy Magistrate Ko Wai-hung said it was a serious breach of Hong Kong's 'indispensable cornerstone' of fair elections.
He sentenced Li to 21/2 months in jail, suspended for 18 months.
Li told Kowloon City Court an old friend called Wong Hoi-ping - nicknamed 'Bearded Ping' - showed him a blank form and asked him to sign it.
Li then showed Wong his Hong Kong ID card and let him write down his number. 'He only asked me to sign it. He only asked me if I supported a specific candidate,' Li said.
Li, who is unemployed, said he would not have gone along with Wong if he had known he was going to make illegal use of the form.
He said a criminal conviction would disqualify him from receiving the government subsidies he depended on.
'I hope your honour understands I was just reckless and I was being manipulated,' Li said.
He said he did not know it was a voter registration form and had not gained any benefit from signing it.
But Ko said he doubted Li's claim and said he had admitted knowing it was a voter form when he made a statement to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
'It was obviously a very mistaken decision to allow someone else to fill in [the form] on your behalf,' Ko said.
Li's registration form gave his residential address as the Hung Kwong Building in Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, making him eligible to vote in the King's Park constituency.
Residents at that address said there said Li had never lived there and they did not know him.Li did not cast a vote in the November 6 election.
The magistrate said it was 'a very serious' crime for which an immediate jail term 'wouldn't have been too much'.
'A fair election is an indispensable cornerstone ... The court shall never permit attempts to interfere in any election results,' he said.
Last month 36 more people were charged in connection with vote-rigging in last year's election. This means the ICAC has charged 52 people in connection with the polls.
Meanwhile, about a quarter of a million voters risk disqualification in September's legislative election because they have not verified their addresses in a clampdown on vote rigging. Given six weeks to verify their addresses with the Registration and Electoral Office, 230,000 people have failed to do so.
The ICAC has charged this many people in connection with vote-rigging in last year's district council election