Two taxi association staff have pleaded guilty to their roles in a vote buying and rigging scheme that allowed around 240 people to register as members of a professional organisation with fake qualifications, allowing those people to vote for the scheme’s candidate in the Information and Technology Functional Constituency at the 2016 Legislative Council (LegCo) General Election.
Li Wai-man, 54, then corporate affairs director of the Taxi Drivers & Operators Association (TDOA); and Poon Sau-fong, 53, then clerk of TDOA; pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud. Co-defendant Wong Suen-lai, 46, then financial director of TDOA, who faced the same charge, had the charge left on file at the District Court.
Li further pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in corrupt conduct at an election by offering an advantage to another.
Judge Katherine Lo Kit-yee adjourned the case to 26 August for mitigation and granted Li and Poon cash bail.
The court heard that in the 2016 LegCo General Election, held on 4 September 2016., two candidates competed in the ITFC, one of the 29 functional constituencies in LegCo.
Members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Hong Kong Section had the right to join the ITFC as electors – Poon and Li’s scheme revolved around adding 240 unqualified people as members, with those members then pressed and induced to vote for Poon and Li’s candidate, Yeung Chuen-sing.
On 7 April 2016, Li sent a blank voter registration form to Poon via mobile phone message. About a week later, with Li’s knowledge, then executive committee member of TDOA Lui Ah-fook invited his younger sisters Lui Wai-fong, Lui Lai-fong and Lui Lai-mui via a mobile phone sibling chat group to join an “IT Club” for $1,000 each. Lui Ah-fook added that the trio were required to register as voters and vote as instructed in the ITFC of the 2016 LegCo General Election (the scheme).
As soon as Lui Wai-fong learned of the scheme, she extended invitation to her relatives, including her brother-in-law Chan Ki-nam, via another mobile phone family chat group. Lui Ah-fook’s son Lui King-yin also mentioned the scheme in two mobile phone chat groups with his schoolmates and associates.
After Lui Ah-fook, Lui Wai-fong and Lui King-yin had gathered the personal particulars of 36 persons, Lui Ah-fook forwarded the consolidated information to Li on 24 April 2016.
In mid-April 2016, Li started to send personal particulars of a number of persons to Poon for IEEE membership registration. Between 12 April and 1 May about 240 persons, including Li, Poon, Wong and the aforesaid 36 persons associated with the Luis, were registered as full members of the IEEE using false information about their professional qualifications, education and/or experience.
The court heard that membership fees of those IEEE applications, totalling about US$32,000 (about HK$250,000), were paid by Poon with credit cards of a then vice secretary.
Between 30 April and 2 May, the REO received the voter registration forms of 124 persons, all carrying the same typo misspelling “Engineers” in the full name of IEEE as “Enginess”. Based on their IEEE memberships, 118 of them were still included in the 2016 Final Register of Electors of the ITFC.
Before the polling day, Li sent a message to Lui Ah-fook and Lui Wai-fong via a mobile phone chat group called “IE Group”, urging them to vote for Yeung Chuen-sing, a candidate competing in the ITFC at the 2016 LegCo General Election.
Yeung failed in his bid to be elected – but holds many positions in Hong Kong society, including as a member of the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee, the Council of Sustainable Development, and the Advisory Committee on Innovation and Technology, as well as being a director of Cyberport.
On the polling day, Lui Wai-fong and Lui King-yin made the same appeal to participants via several mobile phone chat groups.
The court heard that 19 of the aforesaid 36 persons associated with the Luis had applied for ballot papers, including those for the ITFC, at their respective polling stations.
Co-defendants Lui Ah-fook, Lui Wai-fong, Lui King-yin and Chan Ki-nam, who last Tuesday (25 May) admitted their roles in the scheme, will also appear in court on 26 August for mitigation.