Red packet bribe accusations taint University of Hong Kong student elections

Law student alleges that mainland-born candidate in council poll is paying electors through pro-Beijing group; rival categorically denies claim

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 October, 2016, 10:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 October, 2016, 10:30am

The anti-corruption agency is being called in to look into vote-buying allegations against one of the candidates fighting for a seat to represent postgraduate students on the governing council of the University of Hong Kong this year.

Mainland-born Printa Zhu Ke, an incumbent representative who is seeking another term, is accused of offering “red packets” to voters through a pro-Beijing youth group.

His main rival in the university election, Michael Mo Kwan-tai, a law student and human rights activist, said he would file a complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Thursday.

At the centre of the row is the election of a postgraduate student representative to the university council. Voting started on Monday and will continue until Friday. Zhu’s term expires on Sunday.

In the last election, he won 274 votes, compared to his rival’s 51.

This time, four candidates are vying for the seat. Apart from Mo and Zhu, the other two are Samuel Law Sau-wai from the faculty of law and Lee Hang-seng from the department of geography.

Zhu had sent red packets to some people in the WeChat group called the Hong Kong New Youth Association
Michael Mo, University of Hong Kong law student

“Some student sources of mine alerted me that Zhu had sent red packets to some people in the WeChat group called the Hong Kong New Youth Association,” Mo said, referring to the mobile app that allows users to pay money in the form of virtual credit to other users. The money is then deposited into the user’s WeChat pay account which can be used for purchases.

The association is considered a pro-Beijing group which serves mainly young mainland people coming to study and work in Hong Kong.

Mo claimed he would also write to the university registrar, which administers the election.

Zhu, a postgraduate studying in the faculty of engineering, categorically denied Mo’s allegations, describing the whole saga as “a misunderstanding”.

“The association members are university graduates and they have no right to vote in the [University of Hong Kong] election,” Zhu said in a statement.

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Zhu added the “red packets” contained an average of 80 fen (almost HK$1) and were meant to be a token of thanks to association members who had helped him in his campaign.

“I very much welcome Mo to report it to the ICAC and I would fully assist in the ICAC investigation if they think it necessary,” Zhu said.

The Hong Kong New Youth Association could not be reached for comment.