Hong Kong localism and independence

Razor blade sent to Hong Kong official who ended localist Edward Leung’s Legco run

Threatening letter comes after online attacks on returning officers who disqualified hopefuls

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 August, 2016, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2016, 11:09am

The fallout from the disqualification of a localist leader seeking to run in next month’s Legislative Council elections took a worrying turn on Saturday when the returning officer responsible for it got a threatening letter with a razor blade enclosed.

And police arrested a second suspect – a Chinese University student – over separate online threats made against returning ­officers earlier this week.

The force did not name the election officer targeted in the letter with the blade, only confirming that a woman reported receiving the threat at her Sha Tin office on Sheung Wo Che Road.

That is the address of Cora Ho Lai-sheung, the returning officer who invalidated Hong Kong ­Indigenous member Edward Leung Tin-kei’s candidacy for the polls, to be held on September 4.

“The letter contained words that constitute a threat,” police said, without providing further details. “The case is classified as one of criminal intimidation after a preliminary inquiry. No arrest has been made.”

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Ho rejected Leung’s candidacy even after he had agreed to stop advocating independence for the city and signed an additional ­declaration reinforcing his acceptance of Hong Kong’s status as an inalienable part of China.

He was one of six localist aspirants disqualified recently.

Saturday’s threatening letter came after a tirade of online abuse via social media against Ho and fellow returning officer Alan Lo Ying-ki – who disqualified the Hong Kong National Party’s Chan Ho-tin – for their decisions. One user posted Lo’s picture and ­contact details on Facebook, calling on people to condemn him.

Others encouraged people to seek out and publish Lo’s home address and further information on his family.

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The government quickly ­condemned the online attacks, insisting returning officers were only doing their duty and acting within their powers.

Following the arrest of a ­22-year-old man on Wednesday, police on Saturday detained a 19-year-old student over the posts.

Officers raided the Yuen Long home of the suspect, surnamed Cheng and a Chinese University student. They also seized his mobile phone and his computer on Saturday.

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Cheng was arrested on suspicion of accessing his computer with criminal or dishonest intent, and posting more than one threat to harm returning officers’ personal safety on social media, senior inspector Jethro Chiu Kin-yip said.

“The suspect threatened to use violence against the returning officers,” Chiu said, declining to name the victims.

“Police respect freedom of speech, but the virtual world is not a lawless world. Most laws used in the real world are also applicable to the virtual world.”

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The student was released on bail and is to report back to police early next month.

The disqualification of pro-­independence candidates by ­Legco returning officers has sparked criticism and doubts over the officials’ roles, with lawyers claiming the Hong Kong government had given the civil servants power to exercise political screening of candidates.