Hong Kong waiter shifts stance on allegation that Democratic Party paid localist group to avoid poll clashes

Cheng Wing-kin tells District Court that internet user told him the information and he begs forgiveness over the misunderstanding

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 August, 2016, 10:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 August, 2016, 10:55pm

A waiter who testified that the Democratic Party had paid a localist group HK$800,000 to avoid clashes in last year’s district council elections asked a court for forgiveness on Thursday as he clarified that he learned of the information from an internet user.

Cheng Wing-kin, 31, testified on Tuesday that he learned about the alleged payments to Youngspiration through Leos Lee Man-ho from Cheung Sha Wan Community Establishment Power while he was conducting research for a show.

Mainland Chinese ‘boss’ told Hong Kong waiter to rig 2015 district council elections, court told in HK$810,000 bribery case

But on Thursday he said there might have been a “memory mix-up” due to misunderstandings that arose because the evidence he prepared was different from the questions asked by his lawyer.

“I don’t blame my counsel,” Cheng told the District Court. “I might have mixed up a tidbit with what Li said. I ask for the court’s forgiveness.”

Cheng, who has also identified himself as a media worker, is currently on trial for 12 counts of engaging in corrupt conduct during an election.

He is accused of offering at least HK$810,000 to eight people – mostly localist leaders, including Youngspiration’s Sixtus Leung Chung-hang – between July and September last year, either to ask them to run in the election in a list of designated districts or to refer other candidates to him.

He is also accused of conspiring to cheat the polls with co-defendants Ku Ka-ho, 32, and Chan Kin-loong, 37.

He had explained to judge Pang Chung-ping that he approached different people to gather intelligence for a show that aimed to expose election conspiracies, and payments were made to lure them into sharing their election plans.

When asked about the Democratic Party, Cheng said it was an internet user who shared the tidbit during a face-to-face meeting. But he said he could not recall who that person was, or when and where he learned the information.

“It was a tidbit that I did not take seriously,” he added.

Waiter accuses Democratic Party of corrupt offerings during last year’s District Council elections

Prosecutor Jonathan Man Tak-ho asked: “Did you not find it big news?”

“I’m not a legal professional, but I know from common sense that one has to look at the evidence,” Cheng replied.

The court also heard that he did not pursue the matter and he could not recall much from the exchange – only that core Youngspiration members were involved in price negotiations with the Democratic Party.

“I put it to you that you never heard [that], you just made things up,” Man said. Cheng disagreed.

The trial continues.

Leung is among 22 candidates vying for nine New Territories East seats in next month’s Legislative Council election. For a full list of candidates, please see http://multimedia.scmp.com/legcocandidates/