Ken Chow alleges Beijing trio warned him to quit Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections
Liberal Party shocked over former candidate’s story and pledges to raise issue with senior mainland Chinese leaders
Election dropout Ken Chow Wing-kan of the Liberal Party claimed on Wednesday he was threatened by “three people from Beijing” who demanded he drop out of the Legislative Council election race to improve the chances of other pro-Beijing candidates.
The Liberal Party expressed shock at Chow’s disclosure yesterday and vowed to write to state leaders, including National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) head Yu Zhengsheng.
The party urged the Independent Commission Against Corruption to investigate the case.
Regarded as a pro-establishment member, Chow, who was contesting in the New Territories West constituency, claimed the trio produced personal and financial details of his close friends and relatives and suggested they could face “unexpected consequences” if he did not stop his campaign.
He said he was asked to leave Hong Kong and not to return until after Sunday’s election. Chow admitted he had no recording to prove the meeting with the trio took place.
“I was like falling into a dark world when I heard this,” Chow said during a press conference in Tin Shui Wai . “I fear no trouble, but I do not want those close to me to be pulled into trouble.”
He said the meeting, which allegedly occurred on August 24 at a hotel in Shenzhen, was arranged by a long-time “Shenzhen friend”.
Declining to name the hotel, he said the three unknown individuals told him they were from Beijing, but they spoke Cantonese.
Chow said he announced his abrupt withdrawal from the race during a televised election forum the following day.
He said he left for Britain on August 26 and returned to Hong Kong on September 5. A day after landing back in Hong Kong, Chow said he reported the case to the corruption watchdog.
“But I do not think there is much the ICAC can do. It is outside its jurisdiction. The people are from outside Hong Kong,” Chow said.
When questioned on why he could not produce evidence of his meeting in Shenzhen, Chow accepted that he could not substantiate his claims.
He also claimed he had been ordered to switch off his phone during the meeting so that he could not tape what had been discussed. “The public can make their own judgement,” Chow said.
The Liberal Party’s Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, a local CPPCC delegate, said she tended to believe what Ken Chow said and urged the central government to look into the issue.
“What Mr Chow has disclosed is very serious. Some people from the mainland were trying to intervene with Hong Kong’s elections,” she said.
Ken Chow said the Shenzhen meeting was not the first time he had been approached by “friends” from “you know where they are from”.
He said he had been asked to quit the election race on three other occasions in Hong Kong since mid-July, including once in a Tuen Mun hotel during which “the friend” dropped hints of offering him compensation amounting to two times what he had spent on campaigning.
“They told me that I had no chance and I should not run,” Chow said.
“I now disclose more details, because I do not want to see Hong Kong elections being manipulated. Hong Kong people should try their best to protect a free election system,” he said.
He believed the saga was over as he had done what he was asked to do. “I hope to get back to my normal life and I will continue serving Yuen Long residents,” Chow, who has served as a district councillor for about 20 years, said.
The ICAC declined to comment on Chow’s case.
Outgoing Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, cast doubt over Chow’s claims.
“It’s very, very surprising. If someone really threatened Mr Chow to quit electioneering, I would ask why,” Tsang said.
“Public polls … showed Mr Chow’s popularity to be around zero. Where is the logic for persuading someone with around zero popularity to quit an election?”
According to pre-election polls, Chow was on track to capture no more than 1 per cent of the votes in the nine-seat constituency. In last Sunday’s election, he pocketed just 1,469 votes and did not win a seat. Five other pro- establishment candidates were elected.
Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who won a seat in the same constituency, declined to comment. He was pulled into the saga after recordings by one of Ho’s volunteers included references to deploying people to “pressure” Chow.