Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Barnabas Fung Wah has warned social media users not to post false information relating to candidates, saying that it may constitute an offence under election laws.

Fung said that, as of 11am Sunday, the commission had received 139 complaints, 61 of which relate to election advertisements, RTHK reported.

Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Barnabas Fung Wah
Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Barnabas Fung Wah. Photo: Stand News.

Many election-related graphics have been widely shared on social media in the days leading up to the election; for example, the numbers of candidates no. 1 and no. 3 (Lau Chi-shing and Holden Chow Ho-ding respectively) were changed. Earlier, graphics bearing Chow’s face with the candidate number of 6 (which is Edward Leung Tin-kei’s number) also surfaced.

screenshot misleading ad
Photo: Yeung Ann Jo Yeung‎, via Facebook.

Chow, a pro-Beijing DAB candidate, had submitted a complaint to the Independent Commission Against Corruption on the matter, Now TV reported.

Fung warned that if anyone deliberately releases false information relating to the candidates, it may constitute an offence under election laws, and they may be imprisoned or fined. “I hope everyone will refrain from doing this – even if it’s just for fun,” Fung said.

wong yuk man with hk indigenous
Raymond Wong Yuk-man with Hong Kong Indigenous. Photo: Wong Yuk Man via Facebook.

Fung added that it was common for the voting turnout to be low, given that it is a by-election.

‘Election ad’ newspaper

Meanwhile, lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man has criticised pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao for its front page story, which said “Vote for Holden Chow, kick out Legislative Council rioters”. Copies of the newspaper were being distributed for free near a DAB station in Tseung Kwan O. “This is an election advertisement… which they failed to declare!” he said, swearing. Wong is a supporter of localist Hong Kong Indigenous candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of former Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah last year. Candidates include Lau Chi-Sing, Nelson Wong Sing-chi, Holden Chow Ho-ding, Albert Leung Sze-ho, Christine Fong Kwok-shan, Edward Leung Tin-kei and Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu. As of 5:30pm, 276,336 registered electors have voted – a turnout rate of 29.39%.

Polling stations close at 10.30pm.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.