Hong Kong cannot and will not tolerate threats against election candidates
Having made serious allegations of bribery and verbal threats, Liberal Party’s Ken Chow must now fully cooperate with authorities investigating the case
Our democracy may not be perfect but, thankfully, elections in this city are for the most part clean, fair and open. While there may be occasional irregularities, these are isolated cases rather than organised campaigns to subvert our elections. The electoral process is largely seen as fair and transparent, and the results credible.
It was therefore highly disturbing when Liberal Party candidate Ken Chow Wing-kan said he would stop campaigning for Sunday’s Legislative Council polls because of alleged threats. Announcing his decision in a televised election forum last week, the New Territories West aspirant said he was worried that those close to him would be caught in “higher-level troubles and pay a heavy price” if he continued his campaign. He later told the media that someone was trying to talk him out of running for a Legco seat by offering him twice as much money as his campaign expenses. Even more ominous, he said the threat came from a powerful force that fell outside the jurisdiction of local law enforcement bodies.
Under the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, any act to affect someone’s candidature by bribery, force, duress or deception is liable to a maximum fine of HK$500,000 and seven years in jail. This includes inducing someone to stand or not to stand in an election.
Responding to the case in a press statement, the Electoral Affairs Commission said whoever had encountered such interference should come forward, making it clear that it would not tolerate any attempt to subvert this or any other election. The Independent Commission Against Corruption is also reportedly looking into the Ken Chow matter. The allegations are serious and it is incumbent upon Chow to fully cooperate with any and all investigations. At stake is our fine tradition of free and fair elections and the rule of law. The authorities need to demonstrate an unwavering determination to keep the city’s elections free of corruption, violence and interference.