Mandy Tam awaits poll bribery verdict

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 April, 2011, 12:00am

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Former legislator Mandy Tam Heung-man (pictured) will have to wait more than a month to find out if she is guilty of inducing people to vote by giving them a free seminar.

She has pleaded not guilty to a charge of electoral bribery.

Magistrate Gary Lam Kar-yan said he would deliver his verdict on May 26 after Tam's defence counsel - the founding chairman of the Democratic Party Martin Lee Chu-ming SC - argued in Eastern Court yesterday that the election ordinance's definition of advantage was too extensive. 'The ordinance defines advantage as any valuable consideration, gift or loan,' said Lee.

'Valuable consideration refers to things related to money. Such restrictions are reasonable. But that the definition involves 'any other service' is strange. Why should a politician not provide service to the public? Why does the definition have to be so extensive? Why does the law has to prohibit good behaviour?

'This ordinance is laughable in any countries that have elections.'' He said the restriction was disproportionate and breached the right to be elected as enshrined under the Basic Law. 'It is beyond what is required and unconstitutional.

'The prosecution said the case is not related to Basic Law Article 26 [which enshrines a Hong Kong permanent resident's right to vote and to be elected]. The article is definitely of relevance to the case.''

But magistrate Lam said Tam's actions provoked suspicion. 'The participants can gain credits by attending the talk. During the talk, there's vote canvassing,' he said.

It is alleged that Tam offered a free seminar to accountants to induce them to vote for her in the 2008 Legislative Council election.

The court heard that Tam invited them to the seminar at which former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang described her as a candidate who deserved support.