Former Civic Party lawmaker Mandy Tam Heung-man was arrested by the ICAC yesterday and charged with offering voters a free seminar in an attempt to gain their votes.
Reacting to her arrest yesterday, Tam told RTHK: 'It is very clear I am being prosecuted for political reasons. I will explain details at the court hearing.'
Tax adviser Tam will appear in Eastern Court tomorrow to face a charge of engaging in corrupt conduct in the 2008 Legislative Council elections, in which she stood for and lost the accountancy functional constituency seat.
The offence, under the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, carries a maximum fine of HK$500,000 and seven years' jail. Tam, 53, was granted bail yesterday.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption said: 'The defendant is alleged to have offered an advantage, namely service in the form of a free seminar to other persons as an inducement for them to vote for her at the election.'
The election was held on September 7, two days after the seminar.
Tam said: 'If I had not opposed the government's political reform proposal in 2005, the situation would be different.' She said she continuously held tea gatherings with accountants from 2004-08.
Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said Tam had told her about the ICAC decision. 'I don't know whether this is a political prosecution, but what I find strange is that these kind of continuing education seminars are very common in professional sectors,' Eu said.
Lawmaker Paul Chan Mo-po, who defeated Tam in the 2008 election, said it was a general practice for accounting firms and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants to conduct professional seminars.
Tam said former Democratic Party chairman, barrister Martin Lee Chu-ming and Lee's son, Joseph Lee Jo-ey, would provide her with legal assistance.
Tam's political career began in 2003 after she was elected a district councillor for Wong Tai Sin. She was elected to the accountancy functional constituency seat in 2004 and was a founding member of the Civic Party in 2006. She left the party in June last year after losing the seat in the 2008 Legco election.