Pro-Beijing Liberal Party election candidate Ken Chow Wing-kan, who suspended his campaign citing potential threats to those close to him, has said that the pressure came from a powerful force “far stronger” than the China Liaison Office, or local triads, and that it was not from Hong Kong.

Chow announced his decision during an election forum last Thursday. Soon after, recordings from a volunteer of his rival – pro-Beijing candidate Junius Ho Kwan-yiu – were revealed. They made reference to deploying 20 to 30 people to “pressure” Chow during the forum, although the action did not occur.

In an interview with Next Magazine at the airport last Friday, before he left Hong Kong for the UK, Chow said the pressure came from something “very powerful,” although he did not go into further detail.

Ken Chow Wing-kan
Ken Chow Wing-kan. Photo: Next Magazine screenshot.

Chow previously accused Ho of lying to the indigenous people community, claiming that Ho was not an indigenous person himself. Ho was the former chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee.

Ho denied the claims, and accused Chow of failing to produce the document that can prove his claim. Ho said that he filed a complaint with the Electoral Affairs Commission on August 24.

“It was not pressure that an individual or a political party can assert, and it was not a threat of action that a mob can take against me – it was far higher level than they could imagine,” Chow said.

Asked if the pressure was from the China Liaison Office – an organ of the Beijing government in Hong Kong which he accused of supporting Junius Ho – or local triads, he said: “far stronger than these you mentioned.”

Asked again if the Liaison Office pressured him, he said: “I don’t want to say.”

‘Out of range’

When asked if he was willing to provide information to law enforcement agencies, he said: “How can they investigate when the power is not from Hong Kong? It is out of their range of law enforcement.”

Chow said that potential threats to those close to him “may not be physical” but he stopped short of explaining what they were.

Asked if if pressure in their jobs or studies was involved, he said: “I will not give the details. In fact, you can guess what they are.”

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu
Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. Photo: Facebook.

He said he “would not dare to go to mainland China, Thailand or Myanmar,” when asked whether he was concerned about being kidnapped. Chinese agents were accused of abducting people from Thailand and Myanmar in the Causeway Bay Books case and incident surrounding Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu.

Chow also reiterated his claim that a middleman previously offered him an amount equal to double his election spending – HK$5 million – and a government position to urge him not to run in the election. Chow said he knew the middleman for a long time but had refused.

“Of course he did not want my run to affect the winning chance of a certain candidate, whom I don’t know why is so afraid of me,” he said.

He stated that his choice to give up his campaign was to avoid his friends from getting into trouble, that it was not related any plot to affect Junius Ho’s campaign.

Chow previously told his party that he will return to Hong Kong on September 5 after the election.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said on Tuesday that Chow must explain the incident clearly.

The 2016 Legislative Council election is scheduled to be held on September 4. The full list of candidates running across districts and constituencies can be viewed here.

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.