two jailed for election bribery
A former assistant to lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king and a resident group volunteer have been sentenced to eight months' imprisonment for distributing gift packs containing products worth HK$100 to two residents to tempt them to vote for Vincent Cheng Wing-shun in a by-election three years ago.
The sentencing came after the former assistant Wong Wai-ha, 52, and Hoi Lai Estate resident Deng Yimei, 42, were convicted of conspiracy to engage in corrupt conduct in an election.
During the hearing at West Kowloon courts yesterday, deputy magistrate Peter Hui Shiu-keung said the case involved the by-election of the Legislative Council, which would affect all Hong Kong residents.
Hui said the court must hand down a deterrent sentence because such behavior disregards the sanctity of elections and a lenient sentence would lead to the collapse of the electoral system.
"[Election fraud] will make people lose confidence [in Hong Kong's electoral system], and the court must eliminate any kind of election fraud," he said.
Hui said the two were convicted after a trial, which showed that they have no remorse. He added that Wong and Deng were election assistants who offered rewards to eligible voters to persuade them to vote for Cheng, and they must be jailed immediately to deter others from committing the same offense.
Hui also rejected Wong's application to be released on bail pending appeal.
The court had heard that Wong and Deng distributed gift packs to Hoi Lai Estate residents between February 28 and March 11 in 2018, asking them to vote for Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong's candidate Cheng in a Legislative Council by-election.
Cheng won the poll, but was not charged.
The gift packs contained daily necessities and food items, including cooking oil, medicated oil and a scarf.
In mitigation, the defense said Deng grew up in Guangxi in the mainland, where people have little knowledge of democracy or elections. The court was urged to take into consideration her ignorance of the law during sentencing.
The defense also told the court that Wong is suffering from breast cancer and was not able to obtain proper medication when she was remanded.
The court was urged to notify the Correctional Services Department about Wong's health condition.
The defense said Wong and Deng are not DAB members, and that the practice of distributing gift packs has existed for a long time and was not introduced just before the by-election.
They also suggested that the court consider a suspended sentence.
Wong was hired by DAB chairwoman Lee's office as a part-time assistant at a salary of HK$45 per hour between March 2017 and August 2018.
But Lee has previously said that she and her office staff had nothing to do with the election fraud.