Eight jailed two months for rigging Yau Tsim Mong district council poll

Defendants falsely claimed to be living in Mong Kok so they could vote in King's Park constituency; offence very serious, court says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2012, 3:20am

Eight people were each jailed for two months yesterday for vote-rigging in last November's district council elections.

Sisters Yim Sze-ming, Yim Hoi-man and Yim Mei-ki, travel agent Derrick Cheung Kwan-ho and his wife Cheung Sui-bing, bar workers Tsang Po-kei and Fanta Choi Heung-yu, and Oswald Cheung Kwan-ding, who is unemployed, had all pleaded guilty at Kowloon City Court to giving false addresses when registering to vote.

They were granted bail, pending appeal.

The court heard that the Yim sisters were regular customers of a noodle shop owned by Wong Biu, an independent candidate in the King's Park constituency. On one visit to the restaurant in July last year, the women were persuaded to sign voter registration forms without listing their home addresses.

Barrister Francis Cheng, who represented two of the sisters, said the Yims were told to sign the forms because a person "had to have enough votes to run". The sisters claimed to be living in Tung Choi Street and Soy Street in Mong Kok, though they were believed to be Tai Po residents.

The other five defendants falsely claimed to be living in Yin Chong Street in Mong Kok, also in the King's Park constituency.

The Yims joined as volunteers in Wong's campaign on the day of the vote, November 6. Cheng said the sisters were told to vote while electioneering.

Wong lost that election, receiving 118 votes, the least among five candidates. Social worker Edward Leung Wai-kuen won the seat.

However, the lawyer argued in court that his clients, Hoi-man and Sze-ming, received no advantages for providing false addresses and were unaware of the consequences.

Cheng stressed that having a criminal record was punishment enough, especially for Sze-ming, 25, who wants to work in the tourism industry.

But acting Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen said that vote-rigging was a very serious offence, and imprisonment was "appropriate and necessary".

Earlier this month a brother and sister, Chan Yuet-sun, 40, and Chan Siu-kwan, 44, both relatives of Wong Biu, were also handed two months in jail for vote-rigging. It was the most severe sentence meted out since seven men were convicted on vote-rigging charges in March.

The seven were given suspended jail terms for using a false address to register to vote in Yuen Long.