Hong Kong radio host convicted over plan to pay localists to win votes in district council elections
District Court hears that groups were offered HK$850,000 to sway results, one of which involved veteran Frederick Fung’s loss in a closely fought race
An online radio host who offered localist groups more than HK$850,000 for each of them to win 200 votes in specified constituencies during last November’s District Council polls was convicted on Monday.
The District Court heard that the targeted constituencies, which numbered about 10, included Lai Kok in Sham Shui Po, where long-time councillor Frederick Fung Kin-kee lost his seat in a heated competition.
Cheng Wing-kin, 31, who is also a waiter, extended funding offers of between HK$150,000 and HK$200,000 last summer to five individuals, including Youngspiration lawmaker Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang. None of them agreed to take the money.
The scheme came to light when Leung publicised a recording of his meeting with Cheng, as he believed the waiter was trying to take votes from certain candidates in order to hand victory to their opponents.
Before Cheng was arrested in September last year, he convinced renovation worker Ku Ka-ho, 32, founder of political group All People Spontaneous, to pocket HK$36,000 for merchant Chan Kin-loong, 37, to stand as a candidate.
All three were convicted by district judge Pang Chung-ping of conspiracy to engage in corrupt conduct at an election. Cheng was found guilty of six additional counts of engaging in corrupt conduct.
The court heard Cheng had reached out to the localists upon the instructions of a Putonghua-speaking “Boss Li”, whom he speculated was from Beijing’s United Front Work Department, according to his ex-girlfriend Wan Hiu-yee’s testimony.
Pang said Cheng’s actions would prevent the election from being carried out in a fair and just manner as he had offered a high reward for candidates to stand against the pan-democrats and influence the polls in selected constituencies.
The judge rejected all of their evidence after finding them dishonest, evasive, illogical and contractory.
Cheng claimed his true intention was not to fund the groups but to gather and understand information that he believed would reveal election conspiracies as he was making a programme on the subject.
The payments, he said, were only used to sustain his contact with the relevant groups and make them go on camera, but not to actually fund their election campaigns.
Chan also testified that Cheng was funding All People Spontaneous, of which Chan was also a member, but he clarified the payments were to fund the group and not his bid to represent the party in the election.
But Ku testified that he only pocketed the payment as a reward for his group’s assistance in helping Cheng run in the election.
He denied knowledge of Cheng’s funding plans, and said he did not know about Chan’s intention to stand in the election.
Pang, however, questioned why Cheng never recorded any of the meetings or kept the documents he gathered from All People Spontaneous.
The court also heard that Chan never filed his nomination form.
They will be sentenced on Wednesday.