A Liberty Party member who dropped out of the Legislative Council election said on Wednesday that he was forced to make the painful decision because he feared for his family’s safety.
Ken Chow Wing-kan, who made a surprise announcement on Aug. 25 that he was ending his Legco campaign, has now offered more details on the alleged threats he faced as he sought to run for a seat in the New Territories West constituency.
Holding a press conference as promised after his return from the UK, where he sat out Hong Kong’s Sept. 4 Legco election, Chow said he was pressured and intimidated into giving up his candidacy.
He said there had been four instances since July when he was told not to run in the election.
According to Chow, the first instance was on July 13, when a Beijing official stationed in Hong Kong told him that his candidacy will not have official blessing.
The encounter with the mainland official took place at a seafood restaurant in Sha Tin, according to Chow, who is the sitting district councilor of Yuen Long.
The second incident took place four days later, when one of Chow’s friends in the catering business offered him HK$5 million to drop out of the election, the Liberal Party member said.
Chow said he rejected the offer, which he suspected was made at the behest of Beijing, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Later, on July 19, when Chow submitted his nomination form, he said a person working at “Beijing’s office station in Hong Kong” called him and warned him that his candidacy might cost the pro-establishment camp a seat.
In yet another incident, Chow claimed that he was invited by a friend to a hotel in Shenzhen on Aug. 24 for discussions on the Hong Kong election.
However, when he went to the hotel he didn’t find his friend but was instead confronted by three Cantonese-speaking people who said they were from Beijing.
Chow alleges that the three men threatened him by warning that his family and supporters will pay a huge price if he insists on running in the election.
To make their threats convincing, the three strangers listed out personal information related to some of Chow’s family members and supporters, including their occupation and income.
It was after that incident that Chow announced during a televised debate on Aug. 25 that he had decided to drop out of the election.
After pulling out of the race, Chow chose to stay away from Hong Kong, making a trip to the UK. He returned to Hong Kong only on Monday, after the polling was over.
Chow did not reveal details on the people from Beijing who met him or the name of the Shenzhen hotel, saying that he doesn’t want to reveal all his cards just yet.
Following Chow’s comments, the Liberty Party said in a statement that it is alarmed and that it will try to dig deeper into the matter.
The party’s honorary chairwomen Miriam Lau and Selina Chow wrote letters to NPC chairman Zhang Dejiang and CPPCC chairman Yu Zhengsheng urging investigations into whether some Beijing officials had meddled in the election.
Lau is a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC), while Selina Chow is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency, declined to comment on the matter.
Jasper Tsang, the outgoing Legco president, has meanwhile raised doubts over Chow’s allegations.
Tsang said he finds the whole thing weird and illogical as he cannot understand why anyone would want to go to such lengths to force out a candidate who had little support among the electorate.
[Chinese version 中文版]
Chow Wing-kan pulls out of Legco race amid threat (Aug. 26, 2016)
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