Legco candidate Ken Chow needs help – in more ways than one

Sensational allegations of a ‘powerful force’ urging him to quit race require a full investigation by the authorities ... and perhaps other professionals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 12:39am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 12:39am

The Electoral Affairs Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption are jumping into the case of Ken Chow Wing-Kan. That’s all very well. I hope they get to the bottom of Chow’s allegations, which if proven true, pose a direct threat to our electoral system.

But, to paraphrase an old saying, extraordinary allegations require extraordinary proof. So far, the Liberal Party’s candidate for New Territories West in Sunday’s Legislative Council elections has offered little to substantiate his sensational claims. Instead, he has fled to Britain. Unfortunately, in the paranoid and fact-free politics of Hong Kong today, his allegations have taken on a life of their own.

In a dramatic appearance, Chow – dressed all in black – announced at an election debate forum on television last week that he was quitting the race because of threats not only against him but those close to him who might be caught in “higher-level troubles and pay a heavy price”.

He has provided various media outlets with a recording in which the assistant of an election rival apparently threatened to bring dozens of men to “clash” with him.

Ken Chow must ‘clearly’ explain reasons for shock election exit, says Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying

That could be a criminal threat, but it would fall well within local jurisdiction. Later, however, Chow offered a different story, saying the unnamed source of the threats was outside Hong Kong jurisdiction and that it was more powerful than the triads or the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong.

He also claimed someone offered him money – twice as much as his HK$2.5 million election expenses – to quit the race.

A rational even if scared individual might consult with his party colleagues, the police or any law enforcement agency and regulators before going public. He apparently consulted no one, and even surprised his own campaign workers.

To be credible, he might, for example, explain why such a “powerful force” would target a minor political player such as himself. Furthermore, the Liberal Party is generally considered a pro-establishment group.

Campaigning is stressful even in normal circumstances. In today’s highly divisive political climate, the pressure is especially high on election candidates. Anyone can crack under such intense stress.

Chow has made sensational allegations about a powerful force, yet rules out the usual suspects. Instead, he conjures up a hidden conspiracy coming from outside Hong Kong. The ICAC should investigate. But in the meantime, his loved ones may consider seeking professional help for him.