Almost unknown as a politician before his detention in Dongguan , Alex Ho Wai-to emerges from jail as a household figure, his name in headlines for hiring a mainland prostitute. He was not a prominent figure in the months before last September's Legislative Council election. The Kwun Tong District councillor was in third place on the Democratic Party list of candidates in Kowloon East. His arrest on August 13 - and sentence of six months in custody and education - was initially described by party members and his wife as a frame-up. Speaking at a press conference on August 16, they said the arrest was an attack on the party's popularity. But the party retreated from its claim one day later, saying they did not want to dwell on the question of whether Mr Ho had visited a prostitute. 'There is no evidence to show whether it was, or was not, a trap,' lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming said. On August 17, the Dongguan Public Security Bureau released details of the case at a press conference, saying they found Mr Ho and a prostitute, 25, naked in a hotel bed during a raid. He later signed a confession and was ordered to undergo six months of custody and re-education at Dongguan Dalan Detention Centre. The Democratic Party was keen to take damage-control measures, to soften the possible adverse impact the incident might bring. But the Dongguan police chose to release explicit pictures of what they claimed was evidence showing Mr Ho had hired a prostitute - just four days before the Legco election. The photographs included one of a half-naked Mr Ho. His detention ensured he missed the election, and party members said the scandal had contributed to their dismal performance. Controversy erupted just a week later over the disparity in sentencing when a Hong Kong policeman, David Liu Hong-man, was sentenced to 15 days in custody. He too had been arrested with a prostitute, during an anti-vice operation in Shenzhen, a few days after Mr Ho. While Mr Ho has regained his freedom, uncertainties remain about his career. Last Thursday members of Kwun Tong District Council approved a written application for leave by Mr Ho, following his absence. But there have already been calls for him to face the voters and explain the incident or even to resign, to maintain the council's image.