Brian Kan Ping-chee, a five-time champion horse trainer and a rural leader, was arrested by the ICAC on Thursday on suspicion of violating the election ordinance in relation to a rural committee election held on Tuesday.
Kan (pictured yesterday) was running for the Sheung Shui Rural Committee in the election on a slate with other candidates to form an executive committee cabinet.
But with only 16 votes, they were beaten by Bowie Hau Chi-keung's cabinet, which got 44.
North District councillor Hau Kam-lam was arrested with Kan.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption yesterday confirmed two people were arrested on suspicion of violating the Election (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance in relation to the executive committee election of a rural committee. They were a candidate in that election and a district councillor, an ICAC spokesman said in a press release.
Kan was released on bail and left ICAC headquarters in North Point last night, accompanied by his son Terry Kan Wing-fai, who is a barrister in Hong Kong, and senior counsel Cheng Huan.
It is understood that Group X of the ICAC's Operations Department had invited more than 10 people for investigation in the past two days after receiving a complaint about pre-election vote-buying.
The houses and offices of the arrested men were searched in the operation.
The most influential horse trainer of his generation, the 73-year-old Kan is also a powerful political figure. He is the indigenous village chief of Tsung Pak Long, and was chairman of the Sheung Shui Rural Committee until 2003.
He was an outspoken opponent during a controversial attempt to win inheritance rights for women in the New Territories in the 1990s and fervently opposed a conservation area for birds in Long Valley in 2001.
In 1998 he was found guilty of indecently assaulting his maid.
Hau Kam-lam, 57, a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, was the village head of Ho Sheung Heung until 1999, when he was elected as a North District councillor.
Hau Chi-keung, who defeated Kan and became chairman of the Sheung Shui Rural Committee, said he did not use any tricks to win the election. 'I have wisdom but power, and I won the election in a fair manner,' he said.
An indigenous Ho Sheung Heung villager and the rural committee chairman since 2007, Hau Chi-keung was involved in an illegal dumping case in the village by helping the landowners clear and green the site in 2009.
Rural committee posts are elected by village representatives. Each representative is elected by inhabitants of each village.
The committee is the official link between the villages and Heung Yee Kuk and the committee chairman also sits on the district council.
It is a powerful body when it comes to development and land issues in the district.
In 2009, the government rolled out a zoning proposal to turn the Ho Sheung Heung and Kwu Tung area into a 450-hectare new development zone that would provide housing for 65,000 people
Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the DAB, said yesterday that he had noted Hau's arrest by the ICAC and would follow the situation, but he would make no further comment at this stage.