The Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) is allegedly failing to follow standard procedures in investigating a vote-rigging case, according to the Democratic Party citing a source from inside the corruption watchdog. The case allegedly involves the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), a pro-establishment party.

Lam Cheuk-ting, the Chief Executive of the Democratic Party and a former ICAC investigator, held a press conference along with Emily Lau, lawmaker and Chairperson of the Democratic Party on Monday morning. Lam said an anonymous but reliable source told him about a law enforcement officer investigating a vote-rigging case in Kwai Chung without a search warrant. The move was unusual, as a warrant may have been required to collect evidence.

Lam Cheuk-ting and Emily Lau press conference ICAC
Lam Cheuk-ting and Emily Lau. Photo: Facebook video screencap.

The case allegedly involved residents of public housing in the Shek Lei South voting district switching their addresses to private flats in the Tai Pak Tin voting district last year ahead of November’s district council elections.

According to Lam’s source, the commander in charge of the investigation that day told the officer that he did not intend to apply for a search warrant from the courts. “The commander also said that the case was not so strong… and led to the [officer being] unable to take relevant evidence back to the ICAC,” said Lam.

Kwai Chung Kwok Fu-yung
Kwai Chung district’s Kwok Fu-yung, of the DAB, who eventually won the election.

Lam said that, according to his experience at the ICAC, “if you don’t collect the evidence immediately, you may not have any way to get it later.” He said that, if the accusations are true, “would the ICAC still be able to investigate these serious cases involving the pro-establishment… without bias?”

A surprise replacement

Lam’s claim comes after the recent departure of acting Head of Operations Rebecca Li Bo-lan, who was replaced by Ricky Yau Shu-chun in a controversial move. Li was expected to take up her position permanently.

Citing another anonymous source, Lam said that he was told that Simon Peh Yun-lu, the commissioner of the ICAC, also did not follow normal procedures in his evaluation of Li in her year as the acting Head of Operations. Lam said that his source told him that Peh had never sat down with Li to talk about her performance, “which is against ICAC’s usual evaluation procedure.”

Rebecca Li Bo-lan ICAC
Rebecca Li Bo-lan. Photo: ICAC/Apple Daily.

Lam reported the two cases to the ICAC after the press conference.

An ICAC spokesperson told HKFP that the ICAC had no further comments after what had been said last week regarding Li’s replacement.

Regarding the Kwai Chung investigation, the ICAC also told HKFP that under normal procedure, they would not comment on individual cases, including operation details.  They also said that “[Regarding] any complaints regarding ICAC staff, the ICAC will follow set procedures and give the matter to ICAC’s’ internal investigation and monitoring unit’ to handle the matter seriously.”

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.