At a forum between candidates of the Social Workers Registration Board election, a candidate said that the China Liaison Office called him and asked if he needed help in the election, after a news report labelled him as a member of the pro-Beijing business association.

The comment from Chu Cheong-hay raised suspicions that the China Liaison Office may have been interfering the statutory body’s election.

The election will choose eight out of 23 candidates to be members of the board, which include some high profile candidates like Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, who is running with seven others from the Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union (HKSWGU).

At the forum on November 29, Chu was asked about his political affiliation, citing a news report that labelled him as a member of the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Commerce for Small and Medium Enterprises, Apple Daily reported. In response, Chu said that the federation was only a small district organisation. He said he stands for the same values of justice that social workers seek and he is not pro-Beijing.

Chu Cheong-hay. Photo: Hong Kong Federation of Social Work Students

“Because of the article, a person from the China Liaison Office called me instantly asking ‘do we need to help you get votes?’,” he added.

Chu said he knew the China Liaison Office person because of his previous work as the Associate Dean of the Caritas Institute of Higher Education. He refused to name the individual, but said that he was not part of the pro-Beijing camp: “I cannot answer why the person did that.”

Chinese affiliation

HKSWGU candidate Lun Chi-wai told Apple Daily that mainland Chinese students registered as social workers in Hong Kong after graduation often vote for the pro-Beijing camp.

“Chinese authorities have their contacts in Hong Kong. They may be required to vote as per order,” Lun said. Although Lun did not know the exact number of mainland Chinese social workers in Hong Kong, he was worried about the election if local social voters came out to vote to create a high turnout.

Shiu Ka-chun, who was host at the Admiralty main stage during last year’s pro-democracy Occupy protests, told the newspaper that he was shocked about China Liaison Office’s interference in the election. He urged social workers to vote as the turnout rates were often between 15 and 20 percent.

“Do not let people affiliated with Beijing use their power to punish those social workers who joined civil disobedience movements or exercised their civil rights,” Shiu said.

China Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo: Apple Daily.

Shiu added that he suspects candidates Chan Yee-fei, Anita Au Kit-ying and Yu Sau-chu to be pro-Beijing camp candidates.

Yu Sau-chu told the newspaper that no one from the China Liaison Office contacted her. Yu is a committee member of the All-China Women’s Federation Hong Kong Delegates Association, which signed a petition against the Occupy protests.

Chan Yee-fei said that he never won in the election, and that the New Home Association he works in serves new immigrants, and he must meet officials from China. He was worried someone was trying to politicise an internal election.

The election will run until December 12.


Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.