Hong Kong waiter jailed four years over cheating bid in District Council elections
Judge says he tried to meddle in not just one constituency, but several, to coax localist candidates to compete against pan-democrats
A waiter accused of cheating during the District Council elections last year – by offering money to localist parties to take on pan-democrat contenders under the instructions of someone said to be a mainland official – was jailed for four years on Wednesday.
Passing sentence on Cheng Wing-kin, District Court judge Pang Chung-ping noted that Cheng attempted to not only tamper with one constituency, but also tried to convince a number of individuals to take part in various districts – offering up to HK$250,000 to those willing to run in constituencies deemed critical.
“The court has repeatedly stressed fairness and impartiality [to be] the elements of a corruption-free election,” Pang said, calling the crime “extremely serious”.
He said these crimes would damage voters’ confidence and result in bad influence in the long term for Hong Kong’s democratic development.
“To protect the integrity of [polls], the court would have to hand down a deterrent sentence on those who cheat in elections,” he said.
Cheng, 31, offered localist groups more than HK$850,000 for them to win 200 votes in specified constituencies in the District Council elections last November, in an apparent bid to pit them against pan-democratic candidates.
His former girlfriend testified earlier that Cheng worked for a Putonghua-speaking “Boss Li”, whom he thought was from Beijing’s United Front Work Department.
He denied six counts of engaging in corrupt conduct in elections, in that he offered funding 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 took the money.
The constituencies targeted included Lai Kok in Sham Shui Po, where long-time councillor Frederick Fung Kin-kee lost his seat in a heated race.
Leung, who is barred temporarily from retaking his oath, publicised a recording of his meeting with Cheng and unveiled the waiter’s plot.
Cheng, also an online radio host, claimed during the trial that he was gathering information for a programme. But the judge found him dishonest and asked why he had not made any recordings.
Cheng is also convicted over an extra count of conspiracy to engage in corrupt conduct with renovation worker Ku Ka-ho, 32, founder of political group All People Spontaneous, and merchant Chan Kin-loong.
Ku and Chan, 37, were sentenced to 30 and 28 months respectively for the HK$36,000 pocketed by the latter.