Hong Kong society remains polarised, so much so that even a court case risks provoking either side of the political spectrum. But the ending of the controversy aroused by charges against former lawmaker Au Nok-hin and Canto-pop singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming for illegal electioneering has been greeted with relief from those on both sides of the divide. The case was quickly dropped last week upon an agreed settlement, with the pair bound over for 18 months in the sum of HK$2,000. While the outcome has avoided another potentially bitter dispute, it is still a warning to election candidates and supporters who may have long taken many legal pitfalls for granted. Wong sang two songs and urged voters to back pro-democracy candidate Au at a Legislative Council by-election rally in March 2018. The pair had been arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption and accused of illegally inducing voters via “entertainment”. To those familiar with city elections, the case seemed too trivial to pursue because rallies of Beijing-friendly candidates also feature such performances. Au was standing only after Agnes Chow Ting, another opposition hopeful, was disqualified from running, while Wong is one of the most prominent musicians to support the pro-democracy movement. Concern has been raised as to whether the establishment camp is also liable, with some arguing there is a strong case when professional performers are involved. But, according to some legal experts, any form of entertainment may be just as questionable. Under the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, someone who provides all or part of the cost of food, drink or entertainment for another person for the purpose of inducing others to vote – or not to vote – for a candidate shall be liable. But the court heard last week that there was no proof Wong had been paid to sing and canvass for Au. Therefore, the case was not pursued any further. The law prohibits a range of corrupt and illegal practices, although some common canvassing activities have long been taken for granted. The latest case is still a warning to candidates as the city gears up for three major rounds of polls in the coming months.