Village body chiefs arrested in graft swoop

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 May, 1999, 12:00am

Twenty-seven people have been arrested in connection with alleged vote-buying during the recent New Territories' rural elections, the ICAC disclosed last night.

In an overnight operation on Tuesday involving dozens of anti-graft investigators, more than 40 premises were raided, leading to a wave of arrests.

The swoop comes just weeks after a spate of suspected triad intimidation and violence in Yuen Long in the run-up to the elections in March.

Among those being detained at the Independent Commission Against Corruption's headquarters last night were village representatives of Yuen Long's Shap Pat Heung and executive members of the rural committee.

An ICAC statement said all those arrested had allegedly 'offered or accepted advantages in return for casting their votes in the recent rural committee elections'.

The alleged offences, it said, breached section five of the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Ordinance.

An ICAC spokesman said investigations were continuing and more arrests could not be ruled out.

The anti-graft swoop comes amid an urgent official review of rural election procedures in the wake of recent violence.

In one incident on March 29, the home of the head of a Yuen Long village was the target of a petrol-bomb attack.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown into the front yard of Shun Ching San Tsuen head Chan Hoi-kwan just hours before he was due to vote in the election for Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee chairman.

It came just a week after he was the target of another petrol-bomb attack.

In an incident on March 26, up to 500 suspected members of the 14K triad arrived in lorries outside the Yuen Long District Office during the election of the Ping Shan Rural Committee chairman.

They left after being checked by police.

Following the violence, Secretary for Home Affairs David Lan Hong-tsung ordered a working group be set up to carry out a comprehensive review.