Two relatives of a candidate in last year's district council election were given two months in jail yesterday, after they provided false addresses and voted in the election.
Brother and sister Chan Yuet-sun, 40, and Chan Siu-kwan, 44, were granted bail in the Kowloon City Court pending an appeal application after receiving the most severe sentence meted out since the first conviction for vote-rigging in March.
Lawyer Thomas Iu said they were "not someone who was passionate about politics", had received no advantages in giving their false addresses and had been unaware of the consequences.
But Acting Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen said vote-rigging was a very serious offence against the "keystone" of civilisation and democracy.
The behaviour of the pair, who pleaded guilty last month, had affected the fairness of the election, so imprisonment was necessary.
The court heard that the siblings worked in a noodle shop run by Wong Biu, who was married to another sister and was a candidate in the King's Park constituency.
In her registration form, the sister claimed to be living in a flat in Fa Yuen Street, when she actually lived in a public housing estate in Yuen Long. The brother lived in Tin Shui Wai but said he resided in Tung Choi Street.
Iu said they had been persuaded to sign the application forms because other staff in the shop were doing the same thing under an arrangement "by someone".
The brother had worked in the noodle shop's kitchen for more than a decade and the sister was a cashier.
The brother has three children, the youngest is two years of age, and his wife just had surgery on the mainland.
Wong, who stood as an independent, received 118 votes - the least among the five candidates. Social worker Edward Leung Wai-kuen, an independent, won the seat by just two votes.
In March, seven men living in Shenzhen were given suspended jail terms for using a false address to register to vote in Yuen Long.
During sentencing, Principal Magistrate Anthony Kwok Kai-on said he would have imposed an immediate custodial sentence on the instigator, Lam Kam-hung, had the 57-year-old not suffered from cancer and undergone major surgery.