The incumbent pro-democracy camp IT sector lawmaker has slammed “smearing” reports by pro-Beijing media that claimed a teachers’ union transferred voters from the education sector to his sector in order to help secure his seat.

Similar front page reports carried by the Headline Daily and The Standard – both under the pro-Beijing Sing Tao News Corporation – on Thursday claimed that some 1,500 members of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU), who worked in IT in tertiary education institutes, applied to be members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in order to become IT sector voters.

But Ming Pao published a report on Friday stating that it found only 19 voters in the education sector made the alleged switch, out of the IT sector’s 12,000-strong members.

“Let the data speak for itself. When the pro-establishment media could write their headline story based on lies, how far can the smearing go?” said Charles Mok, the sitting IT sector lawmaker running for re-election in the functional constituency of the upcoming Legislative Council election.

Charles Mok
Charles Mok. Photo: HKFP.

One new IT sector voter told Ming Pao that he switched jobs from an educational institute to a tech company, and that he obtained the new status from a related society unrelated to IEEE, or the pro-Beijing industry association iProA.

Another new voter told the newspaper that he expected the election result of the education sector would not be very different from the past, and he heard that the pro-Beijing camp was “doing something” in the IT sector, therefore he wanted to make the switch and vote for the pan-democratic candidate. He said he has been a member of the Hong Kong Association for Computer Education for more than ten years.

President of Baptist University Roland Chin also made the switch, but the newspaper said he was not reachable.

Cheung Yui-fai Ip Kin-yuen
HKPTU vice-presidents Cheung Yui-fai (left) and Ip Kin-yuen (right). /Stand News.

The HKPTU has denied any discussion over transferring voters to other sectors and any involvement in vote-rigging activities. It said that the union in fact urged eligible members to apply as education sector voters in April, during the registration period.

“We recognise and respect press freedom, but we are deeply disappointed by false allegations,” a statement read.

Overall, including the 19, 42 people switched to the IT sector from other functional constituencies since the last election in 2012, according to Ming Pao.

Eric Yeung Chuen-sing, Mok’s opponent in the election, told Ming Pao that he was surprised by the result. “If it was only 40 people, it was nothing special,” he said.

In a statement, Mok demanded Headline Daily issue a public statement to clarify the false allegations.

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.