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Monday, November 23, 2020, 09:19
HK election expenses: Councilors arrested
By Gang Wen
Monday, November 23, 2020, 09:19 By Gang Wen

Two district councilors were among three people arrested on Sunday by the Hong Kong commercial crime police on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government over their election expenses claims while the police found a large number of imitation firearms at the residence of one of those arrested.

The two — Yuen Long district Councilor Henry Wong Pak-yu and Kowloon City’s Timothy Lee Hin-long, were accused of defrauding the government with another man, the director of a company named U Made This, by making bogus and inflated expense claims for the Legislative Council election which was originally slated for Sept 6. The election was postponed for at least a year because of the pandemic. 

According to expense declaration records released by the Registration and Electoral Office, Henry Wong Pak-yu and Timothy Lee Hin-long claimed HK$4.89 million (US$630,800) in election expenses, 64 percent of the expenditure allowed for the District Council (second) functional constituency

According to expense declaration records released by the Registration and Electoral Office, Wong and Lee, who teamed up for the election race, claimed HK$4.89 million (US$630,800) in election expenses, 64 percent of the expenditure allowed for the District Council (second) functional constituency, or the so-called super seat in the city’s legislature. Five district councilors can claim victories through super seats. 

The election expenditure of the team, the highest of all super seat aspirants, included HK$275,000 for image design, HK$250,000 for speech writing and another HK$250,000 for taking photos and videos. 

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Over HK$4.5 million of the HK$4.89 million claimed by the two was attributed as election donations that involved free services or products by the company U Made This. Wong claimed to have spent HK$2.6 million and Lee HK$2.29 million for an election campaign that lasted for over a month before the government announced a postponement on July 31, the last day of its nomination period. 

Expenses for an election usually run from the day a candidate announces his or her intention to run until the day of the voting. 

Other contenders running for the same constituency submitted much lower expenses, according to the public record, with James To Kun-sun claiming HK$400,000 for his reelection bid. 

Earlier, the election-related expenses of some opposition candidates were called into question after the figures raised suspicion when the SAR government announced a full reimbursement program, including the election donations received by all candidates that did not previously normally qualify for a reimbursement. This year, the program removed the threshold of having to obtain 5 percent of the effective vote in the race, owing to the delay.

The police said the bureau pounced on Sunday morning in Yuen Long, Shatin and Hung Hom after a thorough investigation and it didn’t rule out the possibility of more arrests.  

Deputy Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Maisie Chan Kit-ling told a LegCo panel discussion that the government would not reimburse election expenses if they looked suspicious. 

READ MORE: Politicians indulging in adversarial politics have no future in the SAR

The police said it had confiscated some election campaign scrolls as evidence. The scrolls were said to contain political slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong”, “Five demands, not one less”, which radicals constantly chanted and advocated during the social unrest that rocked the city for over seven months since June 2019. 

According to the Commercial Crime Bureau Superintendent Yip Wing-lam, who briefed the media on Sunday afternoon, the police seized eight long-barreled imitation guns, 17 imitation pistols, imitation ammunition and a wooden bow at the home of one of the suspects. The suspect was charged with one further count of being in possession of imitation firearms. 

gangwen@chinadaily.com.cn 

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