Hong Kong’s anti-corruption watchdog has charged four people for allegedly “inciting others to cast blank votes or not to vote” in the 2021 Legislative Council election.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Wednesday accused physiotherapist Wong Chi-yan, graphic designer Wu Hong-ki, financial dealer Kwok Kin-chiu and Mabel Yick, unemployed, of “reposting or displaying on their respective social media pages” posts by pro-democracy activists asking people not to vote or cast an invalid ballot, according to a statement.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption. File photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP.

“Each faces one count of engaging in illegal conduct to incite another person not to vote, or to cast invalid vote, by activity in public during election period, contrary to Section 27A(1) of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance (ECICO),” the ICAC said.

The four suspects were released on ICAC bail and will appear in court on Friday.

They allegedly shared or reposted originally posted by former lawmaker Ted Hui, ex-district councillor Yau Man-chun or activist Sunny Cheung. The three activists have all left the city and are in self-exile, with Hui in Australia, Yau in the UK and Cheung in the US. Hong Kong has issued arrest warrants for the trio.

Former district councillor Yau Man-chun and former lawmaker Ted Hui. Photo: Facebook and May James/HKFP.

According to previous press releases and news reports, more than a dozen people have been arrested over the activists’ posts. They include former district councillors and student leaders.

‘Patriots-only’ election

In March, 2021, Beijing passed legislation to ensure “patriots” govern Hong Kong. The move reduced democratic representation in the legislature, tightened control of elections and introduced a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates. The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city’s stability and prosperity. But the changes also prompted international condemnation, as it makes it near-impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand.

The poll saw a record low turnout of 30.2 per cent, with all but one of the 90 seats won by pro-establishment candidates. It also saw the highest percentage of blank votes cast – at about two per cent of the total – since the Handover in 1997.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.