HK authority sues two for instigating blank votes, first time to bring up the offense since electoral reform
Published: Dec 16, 2021 08:21 PM
Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo)  Photo: VCG

Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo) Photo: VCG

 The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) sued two people on Thursday for reposting a post of Ted Hui Chi-fung, the absconded former opposition lawmaker, which was instigating others to cast blank votes in the upcoming LegCo election. It was also the first time to bring up such new offense since the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance amendment in May. 

Legal experts in Hong Kong pointed out that the case also showed that relevant regulations play a role of deterrence, and such determined law enforcement could stop anti-government rioters from manipulating the election.

It's also part of increased efforts by the Hong Kong authorities to ensure that Hong Kong residents can cast votes on Sunday in a safe and peaceful environment, despite that some radical anti-China rioters like Hui and secessionist Nathan Law Kwun-chung have been vocal on social media platforms overseas calling on people not to vote. 

The ICAC sued two people - a 36-year-old salesman and a 65-year-old office assistant - for publicly instigating others to cast blank votes or invalid votes, which is an illegal act violating Article 27 of the ordinance. The article stipulates that a person engages in illegal conduct if the person incites "another person not to vote, or to cast an invalid vote by activity in public during election period."

"This is the first time that people have been charged for instigating others to cast blank votes, which shows that relevant regulations are not a 'tiger without teeth' but an effective sword to safeguard the fairness and order of the election," Wu Yingpeng, member-elect of the Election Committee and Barrister of the High Court of the HKSAR, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

According to the newly amended ordinance, anyone publicly instigating others to cast blank votes could face up to three years of imprisonment with a fine of HK$200,000 ($25,637), Wu said, noting that anyone challenging the authority of the rule of law will be held accountable. 

In an email sent to the Global Times on Wednesday, the ICAC said it has arrested in total 10 people for instigating others to cast blank votes since November 9.

Secessionists like Law and Hui are fugitives wanted by the Hong Kong authorities. Willy Fu, a law professor and vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Thursday that anyone who posts such illegal and false information to slander the election would also be charged for criminal responsibility. 

"They openly challenge the national security law and local law, spreading fake information through anti-China media or social media platforms to smear the electoral reform in Hong Kong and mislead the public … relevant authorities should conduct thorough investigation and ask relevant internet servers to remove the illegal information," Fu said.