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Non-profit chain store Home Market has been accused of canvassing support for pro-government candidates in the upcoming district council elections. Kwai Tsing district councillor Chow Wai-hung told HKFP that the retailer has recruited supporters for pro-government candidates among its members through the New Home Association, which the councillor says is affiliated with Home Market, a claim the chain denies.

The Association has held classes for Home Market members and asked them to volunteer for pro-establishment candidates’ campaigns, according to Chow.

home market
A home market store with posters of a district council election candidate in the store front.

The store chain also put up campaign posters for these candidates and held promotional activities at the front of stores, Chow added. “A non-profit organisation being involved in such high-profile political activities? I don’t think it is reasonable.”

Chow, a member of the pan-democrat Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre, is running for re-election in Sunday’s polls. He is competing against Mo Sang-tung of the DAB, independent candidate Leung Kwong-cheong and Chan Yuk-ling.

A spokesperson for Home Market told HKFP the chain is not affiliated with the New Home Association.

“The New Home Association and Home Market are two separate organisations.”

However, the spokesperson did confirm that posters promoting pro-establishment candidates had been placed in Home Market stores.

Chow also said the retailer was involved in anti-Occupy Central activities and helped the government promote its political reform bill. “They even gathered signatures to support political reform,” Chow said.

Home Market sells daily products “at near wholesale prices” to “help grass-roots customers save money”, its website says.

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The Home Market website.

A 330 ml Coca Cola can sells for HK$3.5 to non-members and HK$2.7 to members, which is considerably cheaper than the price in Wellcome and ParknShop. The two supermarket giants both offer a four-can pack of the same soda for HK$18.9, which means one can costs around HK$4.7.

Home Market was founded in 2012 by Peter Lee Ka-kit, son of property tycoon Lee Shau-kee. It is funded by the Lee Shau Kee Foundation. The retail chain boasts more than 100,000 members and has eight branches in Kowloon.

According to its website, only five groups of less privileged people are eligible to become members of Home Market. They include elderly permanent Hong Kong residents over the age of 65, disabled people, low-income families, minorities and new immigrants from mainland China. To apply for membership, applicants have to provide relevant identification documents.

According to an official press release, Home Market is included in the government’s “Appreciate Hong Kong” campaign.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.