Holden Chow Ho-ding, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), has been accused of soliciting the support of villagers during a “Big Bowl Feast” in the New Territories for next month’s Legislative Council by-election.
Chow, who is running for a seat in the New Territories East geographical constituency, was seen with legislator Elizabeth Quat, also from the DAB, shaking hands with guests during the 140-table banquet at Wu Kai Sha Village in Sha Tin on Sunday night, Ming Pao Daily reported.
A person could face a fine of up to HK$500,000 and a jail term of up to seven years for corruption and a fine of HK$200,000 and imprisonment of three years for illegal conduct during an election.
The event was not organized by the pro-Beijing DAB and there was no mention that it was related to the by-election, but many guests reported that Quat had asked for their support when she introduced Chow.
Chow was seen approaching each table with Wu Kai Sha village chief Liu Koon-fai.
Chow said he was invited to the banquet and was not there to solicit support.
A village representative, Liu Yiu-hung, said the banquet, which included dinner, entertainment as well as raffle prizes for over a thousand guests, was hosted and funded by the village, with no subsidy from DAB.
He said it has been an annual tradition in the village to hold a “Big Bowl Feast” banquet before the Lunar New Year, and Chow was invited simply to “spice up” the event and not to introduce him as a candidate.
Nelson Wong Sing-chi, who is running against Chow in the by-election, said he is considering filing a complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Sai Kung District Council member Christine Fong Kwok-shan, who has also declared her candidacy for the same seat, said she was aware of the banquet, as it is held every year over the last six years.
Although she regularly attends the event, she decided not to do so this year because of the potential conflict of interest.
Fong said it is unwise for candidates to take part in such gatherings with food on offer, adding that she has never seen Chow in previous editions of the banquet at Wu Kai Sha Village.
Barrister Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu from the Civic Party, who is also running for the Legco seat, said candidates should avoid attending banquets and as it could easily constitute a conflict of interest.
Yeung added that the Electoral Affairs Commission should look into the matter seriously.
Political commentator Ivan Choi Chi-keung said DAB is well-versed with the electoral laws and they would not ask people to vote for them at the banquet.
However, candidates should avoid such occasions, especially if they had not attended the event in the past, he said.
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