Pro-establishment supporters accused of dirty tricks in Hong Kong by-election after elderly voters are escorted to polling stations

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Pro-establishment supporters accused of dirty tricks in Hong Kong by-election after elderly voters are escorted to polling stations

The pro-democracy candidate in the tight by-election in Kowloon West has accused his rival of “employing dirty tricks” in the battle for a seat in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

Labour Party stalwart Lee Cheuk-yan made the claim on Sunday after pro-government volunteers were spotted taking elderly voters in Sham Shui Po to a nearby polling station to cast their ballots.

But, pro-establishment candidate Chan Hoi-yan distanced herself from the issue, and said the service would have been offered “because senior citizens need it”.

In previous elections in the city, pro-establishment groups hired a variety of vehicles to take elderly people from their homes to polling stations for free. Those groups argued they were just helping voters, but pan-democrats questioned whether it was lawful, and whether the elderly were being manipulated.

Coaches were not seen on Sunday, but help was offered on a smaller scale.

At 1.30pm on Sunday, a man in a bright green jacket was seen wheeling an elderly man out from SKH St Mary’s Church Mok Hing Yiu College in Sham Shui Po, one of 73 polling stations for Sunday’s by-election. The elderly man was then taken to Fu Cheong Estate, a public housing block a 10-minute walk away.

The wheelchair was later parked inside a booth run by Chan’s campaign manned by volunteers working for district councillor Scott Leung Man-kwong. The volunteer was also reported by Chinese-language media to have wheeled other senior voters from the estate to the polling station.

Candidates make last-ditch pitches to voters in Hong Kong by-election

Leung, a district councillor from the pro-establishment Business and Professionals Alliance, admitted having made the arrangement, citing rain, and the distance the elderly had to go to vote.

“It’s raining, so we made the arrangement for the elderly,” he said, pointing out that the polling station for Fu Cheong residents this year was far away.

Leung said some elderly voters had complained about fatigue after making a trip to cast their ballots, but the district councillor said volunteers were told not to do any canvassing while helping elderly voters.

“We were careful not to mention any candidates’ names,” Leung said.

At a media briefing in Mei Foo on Sunday afternoon, Chan said she had no knowledge of the service being offered.

“I really don’t know what has happened … Maybe the senior citizens need the service too,” she said.

“So it’s hard for me to comment on it.”

However, Lee said he was sure the helpers were not just being helpful.

“The other side is doing whatever it takes … but we have faith in the Hong Kong people,” he said.

Other candidates include Frederick Fung Kin-kee, a former ally of the pan-democratic camp; IT worker Ng Dick-hay; and non-affiliated Judy Tzeng Li-wan.

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