Pro-Beijing Legislative Council election candidate Junius Ho Kwan-yiu has accused a rival candidate of conducting a conspiracy to smear him, after the election hopeful made a surprise announcement to drop out of the race on Thursday night.
Ho’s statements came after recordings by one of his volunteers were revealed by his opponent Ken Chow Wing-kan of the Liberal Party. The tape made reference to deploying 20 to 30 people to “pressure” Chow during a televised election forum on Thursday, although the action did not occur.
Chow said during the forum that he will halt his election campaign in order to avoid “greater trouble” for people around him. But Chow did not clarify as to what the threats entailed. Ho, in response, held a press conference on Friday questioning Chow’s actions.
“If Mr Chow felt such recordings put himself and his family in danger, why did he not report to the police in the first place? He gave the recordings to media and other parties” he said. “Under what circumstances did he get the recordings?”
Ho refused to reveal the identity of the volunteer in the recording. “I have a responsibility to protect his privacy, not everyone can stand the media’s questions,” he said.
Ho said the recordings were internal discussions by his volunteers on election strategies, but he ultimately rejected the plan after he learnt of it. He also denied the proposed “pressuring” action involved any criminal acts.
Chow did not clearly say what he was accusing him of doing, Ho said. “But he was targeting me – such accusations, if it was not a planned conspiracy, what was it?” he said.
Ho accused Chow of “acting” when he cried in front of cameras. “If you really felt pressure, you wouldn’t be so unclear… he can’t even tell the half of it – wasting the time and energy of many people.”
“Such bad acting made people sad and cry,” he said.
Chow previously accused Ho of lying to the indigenous people community, claiming that Ho was not an indigenous person himself. Ho was the former chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee.
Ho denied the claims, and accused Chow of failing to produce the document that can prove his claim. Ho said that he filed a complaint with the Electoral Affairs Commission on August 24. “I didn’t know my complaint would make him [Chow] so horrified… maybe he couldn’t stand the trial of the law.”
Chow told E Weekly magazine last week that a middleman offered him cash amounting to double his election spending in return for him to halt his campaign.
“For such a serious accusation, why did he not report it to the ICAC [anti-graft agency]? This is very different from common practice, and Chow was a district councillor for a long time,” he said. “It was only him accusing other people – this is the most dishonourable, the accused should have a right of reply.”
Asked about whether there was a “mole” who leaked the recordings, Ho said: “Every volunteer is a good friend, I won’t say they are moles. Everyone who helps me is an angel.”
Ming Pao then reported that the volunteer in the recording was named Wong Si-chuang.
Wong is the president of the Great Union Food & Drinks Co. Ltd. and the H.K.N.T. Estate Agents & Merchants Association, matching the description given by Ho about him on a radio programme on Friday, which stated he was in the catering and property business.
Wong had led a group of people in 2014 promoting their opposition to the pro-democracy occupy protests. Wong confirmed to Ming Pao that it was him in the recording, and said he did not threaten Chow.
In a statement, the Electoral Affairs Commission said that it does not tolerate any defrauding, threatening or violent acts in elections.
It said that it is a criminal offence if violence or threats were used to cause anyone joining or not joining the election. It also said that it is a criminal offence to publish false statements about candidates themselves or other candidates in order to make themselves elected or block other candidates from being elected.
The full list of candidates running across districts and constituencies can be viewed here.