My Take

Michael Mo hoist with his own petard

HKU postgraduate student was all for the ICAC looking into his complaint about university election but now that the graft-buster seeks his help over another, unrelated matter, he’s crying foul

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 1:11am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 1:11am

Maybe there is such a thing as karma, after all. You may remember Michael Mo Kwan-tai, a University of Hong Kong postgraduate student and activist who has accused his winning rival in a campus election last year of bribing fellow students from the mainland – after he had already won – with electronic red packets ranging in value from 0.17 to 1.43 yuan. I am not making this up.

The election was for a postgraduate student representative to the university’s governing council. Mainlander Zhu Ke won, for the obvious reason that his platform advocated better academic support and improved amenities. Mo wanted to investigate the university’s finances and open council meetings to the public, among other things.

The university, not unreasonably, concluded there was nothing to investigate. The Independent Commission Against Corruption rejected his complaint against Zhu. The Legal Aid Department declined to offer financial assistance for him to push on. He has been seeking a judicial review of the HKU decision ever since, but that’s a separate matter.

Now, Mo is crying foul to pan-democratic media outlets and accused the ICAC of “white terror” and threatening his freedom of speech because the graft-buster has asked him to help with another matter.

Red packet bribe accusations taint University of Hong Kong student elections

That’s an awkward complaint from someone who wouldn’t think twice about taking a frivolous case to the ICAC and the courts without the slightest public interest at stake. Many people who are perfectly innocent have been asked to assist the ICAC.

Mo said the agency was looking into election advertisements and expenses. He happens to run a satirical website called By his own admission, he has not been charged, arrested or accused of any wrongdoing.

It’s hard to see how his website could have violated any election law, whether about expenses or otherwise. It just featured several amusing items that made fun of gaffes made by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor when she was running for the top post. It seems Mo can complain to the ICAC for his own pet political agenda, but as soon as it has some other questions for him on another matter, he goes off the handle.

I would jump at the chance to defend him if he got into trouble with the ICAC or any other law enforcement agency for running those harmless contents. But at the moment, it’s nothing of the sort.