Liaison office influence unavoidable, says lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun

Paul Tse claims Beijing backed him in Legco poll and says it is impossible to exist in a vacuum

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 4:00am

Influence from the central government's liaison office on Hong Kong affairs is "unavoidable", lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun has said.

His remark comes after controversy following his admission that Beijing had helped canvass votes for him during the Legislative Council ballot in September.

On radio yesterday, Tse said the office had invited him to events and introduced him to people because it found his stance "acceptable". He said the support was not official.

This came after the Democratic Party complained to the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Monday, that help from the liaison office could be against election rules.

The office denies it helped Tse canvass for support.

In a Hong Kong China News Agency report on Monday, the office was quoted as saying that the reports on Tse's claim were "without grounds".

But Tse said yesterday it was impossible for any organisation to exist in a vacuum and have no influence at all on elections.

"Many representatives from other countries, government officials, media organisations or religious leaders also express their views on many matters. They are influencing Hong Kong elections as well. It's impractical to say we want absolutely no influence [from the liaison office]," he said.

But Tse said the office, as a government organisation, could exercise more sensitivity and avoid provoking Hongkongers by making them feel it was interfering in the city's administration.

Tse said that by a "leg-up", he meant he was invited to events by the office and was introduced to different people.

"There are many ways of showing support," he said. "Some are more subtle, while others are more direct."

He denied he was testing the waters for Beijing to see how much interference Hongkongers could accept.