Beijing liaison office accused of breaking Hong Kong election law

Democrats ask ICAC to check if Beijing officials' election help to Paul Tse required expense filing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2013, 4:26am

A row erupted yesterday over whether or not the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong broke the law when it helped independent candidate Paul Tse Wai-chun win one of the city's five new directly elected super seats.

Angry Democrats, including vice-chairman Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, lodged a complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption on the grounds the liaison office did not declare any election expenses for work carried out on Tse's behalf.

But Tse insisted the liaison office did not actually spend any money when it helped him and was therefore not subject to any legal restrictions.

Tsoi was unconvinced. "The liaison office offered great help to Tse, it was important to his victory. We believe that it involved large-scale mobilisation and large expenses, but obviously the liaison office did not declare them and we suspect that it was illegal," Tsoi said.

While Tse raised eyebrows back in October when he admitted his victory in the Kowloon East constituency the previous month had been given a leg-up by the liaison office, it was only during a television interview on Sunday that he hinted at just how much help it had been. He said: "For canvassing votes, I believe the office certainly helped - it has the network to do so."

But a representative of the liaison office has denied helping him canvass for votes.

The representative said that any statement that it helped Tse campaign for votes was "totally groundless".

Yesterday, Tse stressed it was more about making contacts. When asked if it involved money, he replied: "It did not. Almost all of the occasions were just social functions … it was not that [the liaison office] would say, 'Please vote for him.' No," Tse said.

Tsoi said he would wait for the anti-corruption office's response before deciding whether to lodge a complaint in the courts.