Suspected cases of vote-rigging have been found once again in the Information Technology sector, one of the functional constituencies of the upcoming Legislative Council election.

The number of voters for the sector has more than doubled since last year, rising from 5,650 to 12,115.

These include new voters registered to a flat where the occupant didn’t know them, and a case where a pro-Beijing organisation asked relatives of members – who may not be working in the industry – to join as voters. Charles Mok, the incumbent IT sector lawmaker, said it was very easy to manipulate the system.

Ballots. File Photo: GovHK.

Apple Daily inspected the electoral register and found seven flats that each had up to five newly registered IT sector voters.

The IT sector’s voters should be either from industry organisations or individuals who work in the industry.

A man surnamed Ho, who told the newspaper he works in construction, lives in a flat in Choi Fai Estate in Wong Tai Sin. Four new people were registered to the flat as IT sector voters last year, but Ho said he did not know them, and no one in the flat worked in IT.

Three voters who were registered to a flat in Mei Tong House in Yau Tong obtained IT sector voter status this year. Mr Chan, who answered the door, told an Apple Daily reporter that his daughter works in the sector and he followed her to join. Chan did not answer as to whether he worked in IT before closing the door.

Hong Kong Federation of Hainan Community Organisations. Photo: Screenshot.

Three out of seven people registered to a flat in Heng Hoi House in Ma On Shan became IT sector voters this year. Mrs Wong who answered the door said the Hong Kong Federation of Hainan Community Organisations asked her husband and two daughters to register as sector voters. She told the newspaper that she was not sure about the occupations and academic qualifications of the three.

According to Apple Daily, her husband Wong Ka-kwan was a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee of Lingao County of Hainan and a deputy of the Federation. He owns an interior decoration business instead of working in IT. Speaking to Apple Daily, Wong said he did not understand the reporter’s question about his qualification and ended the call.

The Registration and Electoral Office (REO) told the newspaper there was no information showing the voters in the cases were not eligible.

Charles Mok (left) attending an industry election forum. His opponent changed his plans and did not attend. Photo: HKFP.

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok told HKFP that the problem may lie in the relatively small number of professionals registered to be voters in the sector compared to the entire IT sector population of around 80,000. “That makes it very easy for forces or some people to try to manipulate it,” he said.

Another reason according to Mok was the lack of a professional recognition programme across the whole industry. Mok said seven industry groups applied to be eligible organisations whose members could register as voters, but only one was approved.

“That makes it very easy for some people to get themselves entered into certain so-called professional organisations and become a voter,” he said. “The Registration and Electoral Office has very little ways, very little means, to try to verify their professional status.”

“This is a problem that is not new: every election in the recent past, we have seen serious problems of vote-rigging in IT,” he said.

A pro-Beijing IT industry organisation offered a HK$50 plan to allow members of a new e-commerce organisation to gain membership. Photo: HKFP.

Internet Professionals Association (iProA), a pro-Beijing IT industry organisation, previously offered a HK$50 plan to allow members of a new e-commerce organisation to gain membership. Membership may give them the right to vote in the Information Technology functional constituency in the coming Legislative Council election.

Mok has written to the REO to demand it look into the reported cases and determine whether there are more similar cases. He also requested a meeting with the head of the REO.

Mok is running in the constituency for re-election. Eric Yeung Chuen-sing, Mok’s opponent, could not be reached for comment.

The full list of candidates in the Legislative Council election on September 4 can be viewed here.

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.