Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency charged four people for reposting election boycott calls
On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), detained four people who allegedly urged others to cast blank votes or not vote during the Legislative Council elections in December last year. The move was seen as a violation of the elections ordinance amended last year which makes it illegal to incite others to boycott a poll.
According to the ICAC, those detained were between the ages of 29 to 58 and had supposedly reposted or displayed on their respective social media pages posts from democracy activists like former lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, ex-district councillor Yau Man-chun or activist Sunny Cheung Kwan-yang.
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The agency added that the material had “incited others to cast blank votes or not to vote.” Notably, democracy activist Cheung and former district councillor Man-chun are overseas. Among the four suspects detained are physiotherapist Wong Chi-yan (42) and Mabel Yick (58) are accused of sharing content by former legislator Hui.
On the other hand, the 44-year-old graphic designer, Wu Hong-ki and the 29-year-old, finance dealer Kwok Kin-chiu shared the content originally posted by the two activists overseas.
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In 2021, the Legco passed an amendment which reads, “inciting another person not to vote, or to cast an invalid vote, by activity in public during [an] election period”. If convicted the four people, in line with this amendment, can face up to three years in jail and a maximum fine of HK$200,000 ($25,000).
This came after China’s overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system in a bid to ensure only “patriots” were in positions of power in the city, reported the South China Morning Post. The December elections were the first city-wide election since the amendment was passed. In a statement, the IACA said that arrest warrants were issued against the three original authors last year.
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Notably, it is not illegal for people to cast a void ballot or even refuse to vote. However, since Beijing’s new system has been imposed all candidates are required to be vetted for political loyalty prior to the election, effectively barring anyone from the city’s traditional pro-democracy opposition to contest. The turnout at last year’s overhauled “patriots” hit a record low amid crackdowns on the city’s freedoms by China.
(With inputs from agencies)
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