'Stunned' Councillor Leung Wai-kuen removed from King's Park seat
Rival claimed foul play after losing by 2 votes. Now he and the deposed victor both say they are ready to run again for King’s Park seat
A district councillor from the King's Park constituency has been unseated by an election rival who missed out on the seat by just two votes.
Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon in the High Court yesterday declared that Edward Leung Wai-kuen had broken campaign rules and was therefore not "duly elected".
A by-election for the King's Park constituency will be held.
Leung, a social worker with no political affiliation, breached the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance.
He had failed to file the written consent of 52 supporters, such as chairmen of incorporated owners of buildings, before publishing their names in a campaign advertisement.
In January, Leung asked the same judge at the Court of First Instance to exempt him from the threat of disqualification, but his request was denied.
Instead, the court allowed an election petition that Lam Kin-man, of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, filed after losing the election in 2011.
Leung's appeal against the January ruling will be heard in November.
Leung had won 1,045 votes in the 2011 Yau Tsim Mong district council election, beating Lam's 1,043.
Three other candidates took 118, 165 and 178 votes.
Before polling day, Leung had sent 8,000 booklets containing the offending campaign advertisement to potential voters.
Outside court, a jubilant Lam said he would "actively" consider running in the by-election, but would need to consult his party first. "The ruling finally brings justice for me," he said.
Leung said he was "extremely disappointed, heartbroken and stunned" by the ruling.
"This is not fair to me," he said in a press conference. "If there was a re-election, I most definitely would stand … I am perfectly confident I will win again," he said. It is not known whether the ruling will affect his eligibility to run.
Leung's lawyer Francis Chong Wing-charn said: "There are different degrees of illegal acts. Missing out written consent is clearly only a minor misdeed."
But the judge concluded the outcome of the election might have been swayed by Leung's "illegal conduct", given the small difference in the pair's votes, the scale of the publication and the prominence of those named as supporters in Leung's election advertisements.
He sent the judgment to the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In it, he wrote: "Given the clear legislative policy on disqualification, and the refusal of relief by the court, it would be surprising if the DPP deemed it appropriate not to prosecute such a case, given the public interest in upholding the integrity of elections.
"Inadvertence or other reasonable causes are not relevant in a criminal prosecution, as the criminal court has no power to grant such relief."
The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau had no comment on the judgment.
The Electoral Affairs Commission will arrange a by-election in due course.