Hong Kong singer Anthony Wong charged with corruption for singing at 2018 opposition rally

Anthony Wong is currently out on bail.
Anthony Wong is currently out on bail.PHOTO: ANTHONY WONG/INSTAGRAM

HONG KONG - Popular Cantopop singer Anthony Wong has been charged with corruption for singing two songs at a 2018 rally held by the opposition.

Anti-graft watchdog Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Monday (Aug 2) charged Wong and former opposition lawmaker Au Nok Hin with one count of engaging in corrupt conduct to provide others with entertainment to induce people to vote for the latter.

It said that the 59-year-old singer-songwriter performed two songs on stage at a rally held by Au, 34, at Edinburgh Place in Central on March 3, 2018.

The rally was held a week before Au, who is now in jail, won a Legislative Council (Legco) by-election.

"At the end of the performance, he appealed to the participants of the rally to vote for Au at the election," the ICAC said in a statement.

A video of the rally was subsequently shared on Au's social media account and the former lawmaker had reported that the video, as well as a post announcing Wong's performance, were his election advertisements, said ICAC.

"Providing others with refreshments and entertainment at an election is a corrupt conduct and a serious offence.

"Candidates, election agents/helpers and members of the public are reminded to refrain from offering food, drinks or entertainment during an election in exchange for votes," the ICAC said.

Wong and Au are expected to appear in Eastern Magistrates' Court on Thursday, local media said. Wong is out on bail. They can face up to seven years in prison and a fine of HK$500,000 (S$87,000).

In December 2019, Au had lost his Legco seat after another pro-democracy candidate Agnes Chow overturned the election result in court.

In January, Au was among 47 opposition politicians and activists arrested for links to primary polls held in July last year, ahead of Legco elections that were eventually postponed. The 47 were charged under the national security law with conspiracy to commit subversion.

In March, Au was sentenced to nine weeks' jail for assaulting two police officers with a loudhailer at an anti-government protest in 2019.

The next month, he was handed a 10-month jail term after he pleaded guilty to organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly on Aug 18, 2019, where thousands gathered at Victoria Park before marching to Chater Road in Central.

Anthony Wong (left) and Au Nok Hin are expected to appear in Eastern Magistrates' Court on Thursday. PHOTOS: WONGYIUMINGANTHONY/INSTAGRAM,  AUNOKHIN/FACEBOOK

The latest development comes a week after ICAC charged Occupy movement co-founder Benny Tai, along with two others, over a strategic voting scheme that the accused proposed for the Legco polls in 2016.

Tai, 57, was charged alongside Ip Kim Ching and Sek Sau Ching for allegedly engaging in illegal conduct by placing six newspaper advertisements for the scheme and incurring election expenses totalling over HK$253,000. None of the three were candidates in the polls.

ICAC said Tai, who has been in remand since February for ties to the July 2020 primary polls, came up with the "ThunderGo" strategy five years ago. It uses pre-election poll results to coordinate pro-democracy voters for the election.