A Legislative Council election candidate has said he will suspend his campaign, stating that people around him received threats.

“Because I do not want the important people around me to get into even greater trouble, or pay a price – after this night, I will stop my election campaign, this forum will be my last,” said Ken Chow Wing-kan, the conservative Liberal Party’s candidate, in a surprise move at an election forum for the New Territories West constituency on Thursday night.

He did not explain who the important people were, and what kind of trouble they may be facing. But he said that he received a set of recordings suggesting that a group of people were “waiting for him” after the forum, suggesting a threat towards him. He said that suspending his campaign was the best option.

Ken Chow Wing-kan. Photo: i-Cable Screenshot.

A report carried by the E Weekly magazine last week claimed that Chow was offered HK$5 million and a government position in exchange for suspending his campaign in order to secure votes for pro-Beijing candidate Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. Chow told the magazine that a “middleman” offered an amount equal to double his election spending, though he refused it. He did not name the person.

‘One per cent’ support

In the latest poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme, Chow received one per cent of support in the constituency, which was not enough to win a seat. Junius Ho received eight per cent, meaning he stands a chance of election among the nine standing for election.

Both Chow and Ho have ties with indigenous people of the New Territories. But Chow has accused Ho of lying to the community, claiming that Ho was not one himself. Ho was also accused of being supported by the China Liaison Office in Sai Wan, as Chow issued campaign materials this week that read: “Say no to Sai Wan ruling New Territories West.”

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. Photo: Facebook.

‘Not afraid of death’

Civic Passion’s Cheng Chung-tai criticised Ho for being the only person smiling when Chow announced his decision during the debate. He asked how Ho would help Chow. Ho said: “I will talk to him if he comes to me, but I don’t know what happened to him – your accusations are very unfair to me… when did I smile?”

Andrew Wan Siu-kin of the Democratic Party said he will report the incident to the police with Chow, and asked whether Ho will accompany them. In response, Ho said: “Why do I have to report to the police with him? You can go with him, I have more meaningful things to do.”

Chow remained silent but spoke once again during the concluding remarks.

“I am not afraid of death, as a Christian, I know I will be with my lord after I die,” he said. “The most frightening thing is knowing that you cannot protect the important people around you.”

“Humans naturally seek justice, it’s very pure; and because of that pureness, I became an egg, I am afraid of being an egg being crushed. I am not afraid of facing a crowd of mobs, but I do not want these important people around me to get into even greater trouble, or pay a price,” he added.

There is no mechanism to withdraw from the election after a candidacy is confirmed.

A campaign material from Ken Chow that read “Say no to Sai Wan ruling New Territories West.” Photo: Facebook.

Local newspaper Ming Pao published a report after the forum saying that its reporter received two recordings from Chow. Chow said an unnamed person sent the recordings to him asking him to be careful.

“We will call upon 20 to 30 people to pressure Chow at the venue tonight, so that he cannot focus on the election forum – we will do this tonight, we will give you banners later,” the person in the recording said. “After we pressure Ken Chow, we should all wear vests supporting lawyer [Junius] Ho again, to support him and cheer for him – when [the forum] finishes, we will pressure Chow again, that’s how we’ll do it.”

Ho, a lawyer and the former president of the Law Society, is the no. 8 candidate in the constituency.

Ken Chow Wing-kan. Photo: i-Cable Screenshot.

Chow mentioned the recordings as he was leaving the forum, saying that he was not afraid. When he was asked by reporters whether he was being threatened, he said: “I do not want to say,” before he suddenly became emotional and left.

Ho said he had filed a complaint to the Electoral Affairs Commission against Chow few days ago on the accusation that he was lying to the indigenous people, that he guessed Chow may be emotional due to the complaint.

“He seems to be the weak, the victim, but in fact I am the victim. I was being defamed, this was political smearing, suppressing those truly want to serve the people,” he said.

Asked about the recording on a Commercial Radio programme on Friday, Junius Ho said that he recognised the voice, who is a volunteer on his team. He said that he did not know about the content of the recording, but he decided before the election forum that they would not adopt such tactics to attack Chow.

A media officer for Chow said he will leave Hong Kong for a period.

In a statement, the Liberal Party said it was shocked by the incident, but it will respect Chow’s decision.

The party said it believed Chow may have received external pressure or even threats, that will endanger the safety of his family, that it was looking into the incident, and will make follow up actions once the truth is known.

The full list of candidates running across districts and constituencies 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.