Hong Kong’s anti-corruption watchdog has charged pro-democracy singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming and democratic politician Au Nok-hin with breaching electoral law after Wong performed at a campaign rally for Au before a Legislative Council by-election three years ago.

Five democrats have now been charged under the same law in a matter of days. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) charged former law professor Benny Tai and two others on Thursday over suspected illegal election spending in 2016.

Hong Kong singer-songwriter Anthony Wong performs in a campaign event for democrat Au Nok-hin in March 2018. Photo: Au Nok-hin, via Facebook.

In a statement on Monday the ICAC said Wong, 59 and Au, 34 were charged following an investigation prompted by a complaint alleging that they had violated the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance (ECICO) in 2018.

Both Au and Wong were arrested last Thursday morning. Wong was subsequently granted bail, according to local media reports.

Providing entertainment for votes

“The charge alleges that on March 3, 2018, Au and Wong engaged in corrupt conduct at the 2018 LegCo By-election for Hong Kong Island Geographical Constituency by providing entertainment, namely a singing performance, for another person for the purpose of inducing the other person to vote for Au at the election,” the ICAC statement read.

The rally at Edinburgh Place in Central was attended by several hundred people. Au won the by-election on March 11 over three other candidates in the district.

Demcrat Au nok-hin (left) and Anthony ong Yiu-ming. Photo: HKFP Remix.

While acknowledging that Au had reported the musical performance as election advertisements, the ICAC’s spokesperson said: “Section 12 of the ECICO states that it is a corrupt conduct for any person to provide or meet all or part of the cost of providing food, drink or entertainment for another person for the purpose of inducing the other person or a third person to vote or not to vote for a particular candidate or particular candidates at an election.”

Au is on remand awaiting trial in a separate national security case along with 46 other democrats. The election case will be mentioned at Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.