Two women jailed over forgery of Hong Kong voter registration forms

Court heard aunt and niece’s actions spurred by an association’s claim that it could help accelerate the application process for right of abode as the aunt wanted residency in the city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 8:32am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 8:32am

A court urged prosecutors to investigate an association that claimed it could speed up applications for the right of abode after a housewife was jailed on Wednesday for forging more than a dozen voter registration forms to help her mainland aunt, who also received a prison sentence, gain residency in Hong Kong.

Fanling Court heard that the two women, following the advice of their mainland friends, gathered their relatives’ personal information and submitted voter forms to the association in a bid to quicken the right of abode application process as Hong Xiulian, 58, was anxious to care for her ailing parents in Hong Kong.

Hong enlisted the help of her niece Hung Yin-yuk to fill in and sign 13 forms with false signatures and addresses between April and June last year, before the district council elections.

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On Wednesday, Hung and Hong were respectively sentenced to four and three months in jail. The pair pleaded guilty to seven joint charges of forgery two weeks ago, with Hung, 40, admitting to a further six counts of the same offence.

Deputy magistrate Minnie Wat Lai-man said that the association’s claim was rather suspicious and unusual and requested that prosecutors review if an investigation is needed.

In jailing the pair, she said: “The court has no evidence to show their actions were politically motivated, but their actions have already turned them into pawns to interfere with Hong Kong’s election system.”

A defence lawyer had argued in mitigation that Hung had no intention to influence the election because she was politically apathetic, while her aunt was a mainlander not familiar with electoral systems or the consequences of her actions.

But Wat countered that “[Hong] should know better ... than to commit the offence for her selfish gains”.

She explained that if it were not for the Registration and Electoral Office’s discovery of the 13 problematic forms in June last year, their actions could have introduced false data into the system. That could leave far-reaching consequences, she said, depriving victims of identity theft the right to vote in the election.