With the Legislative Council election campaign in the final stretch, some organizations are resorting to an old trick to mobilize support for their favored groups — arrange banquets and tea parties for prospective voters.
Reporters from Hong Kong Economic Journal spotted a banquet at a restaurant in North Point on the night of Aug. 27, as well as a tea party at the same place the next day, which appeared to be linked to Sunday’s election.
About 30 tables were reserved for the events on both the occasions.
The banquet on Saturday was hosted by the Cross-Strait Peaceful Development Federation, a pro-establishment organization that is largely made up of people whose roots go back to China’s Fujian province.
The tea party, meanwhile, was organized jointly by the Hong Ling Society for the Well-being of the Elderly, which is an entity linked to the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, and an auto industry organization.
Some attendees at the events are believed to have paid nothing while some said they were offered a concessionary price.
Though they were made to look like normal gatherings, the events were aimed at urging participants to vote for “patriotic” candidates in the upcoming election, according to the reporters.
While some people might call such arrangements a form of election bribery, legal experts say it’s very difficult to build a case against the organizers if they do not specifically name a candidate.
A senior official from the Motor Transport Workers General Union, a person surnamed Lo, was heard saying to the participants of the tea party that the Occupy movement in 2014 and the Mong Kok clashes in February this year should have made people see through the pan-democratic lawmakers by now, and hence they should vote for patriotic candidates.
Asked if the tea party was held on purpose before the election, Lo denied it, arguing that such events have been held on a regular basis.
He said that he only called on participants to perform their civic duty and vote in the election.
Kwok Wai-keung, a candidate for the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and a sitting lawmaker was seen shaking hands with the participants at the tea party.
Kwok declined to comment when asked about his presence at the event.
News website hk01.com reported that some voters were invited to a restaurant in Shenzhen last week.
At the gathering, the people were said to have been given 200 yuan (US$29.9) each and handed a list bearing names of some candidates from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the pro-Beijing political party.
In related news, a blogger posted a photo on social media that shows a HK$500 lucky draw ‘lai see’, together with a card, that was apparently handed out at an election-related gathering.
The card is said to bear information as to how many “cakes” will be distributed in various districts during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The number shown for each district, incidentally, matches the election numbers given to candidates representing the pro-establishment camp in the Legco contest.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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