The Headline News In Hong Kong - Part 2
In Part 1, I reported on the case of the Hong Kong university professor who was caught using a prostitute in Beijing. The point about that story was that there were substantive differences in coverage between English-language and Chinese-language media. Most interesting was the fact that the mainland Chinese public security bureau took exception when the professor and his supporters offered a version that diverged from what the bureau thought.
Now, we have a case of a Hong Kong Legislative Council candidate allegedly being caught using a prostitute in Dongguan. The English-language version is based solely upon what the defendants' supporters said, whereas the Chinese-language version has a source inside the mainland Public Security Bureau. So far, this may seem like another "He Said versus They Said" situation. And, of course, the mainland Public Security Bureau was bristling at being accused of a frame-up in a Democratic Party press conference in Hong Kong. As an immediate consequence, the Dongguan Public Security Bureau have released the confessions of Alex Ho and the prostitute and held their own rebuttal press conference.
But just like the previous case, there is a lot of evidence that may be brought in. In the previous case, the defendant's explanation of the evidence was confused and self-contradictory and he has vanished from view since then.
In this case, the Democrats presented this version in their first press conference:
Ho, the manager of a manufacturing firm, went to Dongguan on Thursday on business. According to his wife, Ho was awakened in his hotel room by a telephone call early on Friday morning. A minute later a number of Public Security Bureau officers had barged into his room and dragged him into the toilet where he was beaten and had cold water poured on him, she said.
The officers had then dragged Ho back into the room, where women's underwear and condoms were thrown on his bed. A woman appeared and Ho was videotaped and photographed with her.
In the alternate version, Ho went to the karaoke parlor in the hotel. There were many witnesses, including half a dozen male companions from Hong Kong and the karaoke parlor's staff, including the mama-san and the prostitute named Zhou who was a DJ at the karaoke parlor.
In the face of the detailed evidence, the Democratic Party has quickly backed off from its initial claim of political persecution. Their initial claim has now been re-classified as a quotation of Mrs. Ho, who now denies making the claim. The Democrats are not interested in discussing the merits of the case any more, and they only want Alex Ho back in Hong Kong for medical reasons.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE COVERAGE
(The Standard) Democrat jailed in China. By Cannix Yau and Teddy Ng. August 17, 2004.
The Democratic Party has condemned Dongguan authorities for jailing one of its members for six months without trial on a charge of soliciting a prostitute, saying the timing raised suspicions of a political conspiracy against the party.
The party also claimed the mainland authorities had forced Legislative Council candidate Alex Ho into making a confession.
However, party chief Yeung Sum on Monday night refused to be drawn on whether it was a plot against the party in the run-up to the September 12 Legislative Council election, saying he needed to have a full grasp of events before making comment.
"Right now I don't want to comment on it. I am deeply concerned about the safety of Alex Ho and his wife. I don't want to say whether or not there is a political conspiracy,'' he said.
The party called a hastily convened press conference after it was told by Ho's wife that her husband had been arrested on the mainland early on Friday morning and accused of seeking the services of a prostitute.
She said he had been jailed for six months even though there was no trial.
Ho, 46, a Kwun Tong district councillor who is standing for a seat in the Kowloon East constituency, is ranked third on the party ticket behind incumbent Fred Li and with Wu Chi-wai.
Ho, the manager of a manufacturing firm, went to Dongguan on Thursday on business. According to his wife, Ho was awakened in his hotel room by a telephone call early on Friday morning. A minute later a number of Public Security Bureau officers had barged into his room and dragged him into the toilet where he was beaten and had cold water poured on him, she said.
The officers had then dragged Ho back into the room, where women's underwear and condoms were thrown on his bed. A woman appeared and Ho was videotaped and photographed with her. The officers then told Ho he was under arrest for seeking the services of a prostitute and took him to a detention centre. Ho's wife said he was denied food and water until he signed the confession.
She said Ho had telephoned his son on Friday night saying he would return on Monday. When he did not return, she went to Dongguan's detention centre where she was informed that he had been sentenced to six months' imprisonment. He has been given 60 days in which to file an appeal.
Democrat Albert Ho said people charged with soliciting were normally fined and put on a two-week probation. He said the unusual circumstances surrounding the incident led party members to suspect that there was a conspiracy behind the arrest.
Li said: "Why did this incident happen during the pre-election period ... so timely? Why did they have to jail him for six months so he could not return before the election? This leads people to suspect that there is some kind of conspiracy.''
The party also criticised the Dongguan authorities for not complying with the cross-border notification system and informing the Hong Kong authorities of the arrest. The Security Bureau had told the party that it had not received any notification from Dongguan authorities about the arrest but that it did receive a request for help from Ho's wife. It promised to follow up the case.
The democrats said they needed more information. "I am very shocked. The whole thing runs against proper legal procedures. This is the third degree, an abuse of power. How is it that there can be a jail term without a proper trial?'' Ho asked.
Li said: "I was very shocked when I heard this news. I've never imagined that this kind of incident could happen. I absolutely believe that Alex Ho is not this kind of person. He loves his wife very much and his wife also doesn't believe this at all.'' He said Alex Ho and his wife had been happily married for more than 20 years.
Li said Ho normally went to the mainland about once every two weeks for business. He said he had advised Ho to avoid going there during the sensitive election period and that this was to have been his last trip before polling day.
Party officials will meet Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee today to discuss the matter. The democrats have already passed their concerns to local National People's Congress deputies David Chu and Allen Lee.
Lee said he would contact the Central Government Liaison Office to seek the release of Ho. He said a sex-related scandal was especially sensitive in the run-up to the election.
(Telegraph) Hong Kong candidate 'arrested in sex sting'. By Richard Spencer. August 18, 2004.
The Chinese government set up a fake sex sting operation to arrest a candidate in key elections in Hong Kong, pro-democracy politicians in the territory claimed yesterday.
Alex Ho Wai-to, who was due to stand as a Democratic Party candidate in next month's legislative council elections, has told his family he was arrested in the mainland Chinese city of Dongguan while on a business trip.
He said he was asleep in his hotel when police burst in. While they beat him up in the bathroom they produced a prostitute, took photographs and video film and put condoms and women's underwear on the bed.
He was sentenced later to six months in prison under administrative procedures which allow police to send people for "re-education" for short periods without trial.
The elections are a test of support for Beijing. But pro-democracy politicians say they have suffered dirty tricks. Some have had their offices vandalised and have received threatening calls.
(New York Times) China Holds Candidate From Hong Kong on Prostitution Charge. By Keith Bradser. August 18, 2004.
An already heated election campaign for the legislature here took an unexpected turn on Tuesday with an announcement by the Democratic Party that one of its candidates had been arrested in mainland China on charges of soliciting a prostitute and had been sentenced without trial to six months in detention.
The candidate, Alex Ho, was arrested Thursday at a hotel room in Dongguan and held without access to a lawyer or to family members until he signed a confession that he had hired the prostitute, said Fred Li, a senior Democratic Party member of the Legislative Council.
Mr. Li said Mr. Ho initially refused to sign, but did so when told he would be released on Monday if he signed, and when threatened with prosecution for rape if he did not sign.
Instead of being released, however, Mr. Ho was then sentenced to six months in detention, Mr. Li said. The Chinese police have broad powers to detain people for "re-education through labor" without trial. A man answering the telephone at the Dongguan Public Security Bureau on Tuesday said his superiors had decided not to comment. Ambrose S. K. Lee, Hong Kong's secretary for security, told reporters on Tuesday that his agency was gathering information about the case and would make inquiries to its mainland counterparts. While mainland authorities are supposed to notify Hong Kong officials promptly of the arrest of a Hong Kong citizen, no such notification had been received about Mr. Ho, Mr. Lee said.
Mr. Ho's wife, Ho Fung-sim, appearing at a news conference with Mr. Li, said she had "perfect trust" in her husband and did not believe he had committed any crime.
Political tensions have been rising in Hong Kong, a British colony until its return to China in 1997.
Three pro-democracy hosts of radio talk shows quit in quick succession this spring, complaining of receiving threats; one has just begun running in the Legislative Council elections, scheduled for Sept. 12.
Talk show callers have complained that their mainland relatives had been told by security personnel to ask Hong Kong family members to vote for pro-Beijing candidates, and to provide proof by photographing their ballots using cellphone cameras. Election officials here have reminded the public that it is illegal to take photos in a polling place.
Mrs. Ho, looking disheveled and speaking in a broken voice, said she had been allowed to meet her husband on Monday and Tuesday at a low-security correctional and re-education facility on the outskirts of Dongguan, 40 miles northwest of here. She said security officials had stayed with them during the meeting on Tuesday and had insisted they speak in loud voices that the officials could easily hear.
Mrs. Ho also said that her husband's back was bandaged, and that he had told her he had been injured while struggling with security personnel when arrested. Mr. Li said that even after his sentencing, Mr. Ho still had not been allowed to speak with a lawyer, and had been denied adequate food.
Democratic Party officials said that at the time of his arrest, Mr. Ho, a sales manager for a clothing company, had been on a routine business trip to Dongguan, one of China's largest centers of apparel production.
Under Hong Kong law, Mr. Ho will be disqualified from election if he has been sentenced to three or more months in prison, or if he is still in prison on the day of the election.
Democrats delivered a sharp setback to pro-Beijing candidates in neighborhood elections last November, and polls have suggested they will do well in the Council elections.
(Los Angeles Times) China Jails Hong Kong Democrat. By Mark Magnier. August 18, 2004.
The arrest of a pro-democracy Hong Kong candidate in mainland China on charges of soliciting a prostitute touched off a media furor in the former British colony Tuesday and fueled suspicion that Beijing was trying to influence next month's legislative election.
The uproar broke out Tuesday morning after several papers published front-page reports that candidate Ho Wai-to had been arrested Friday in the mainland province of Guangdong and sentenced almost immediately to six months in a labor camp.
Given that such cases are usually handled with a fine, some analysts said the treatment of Ho was odd — especially because Hong Kong apparently was not notified and because the arrest comes at a time when Beijing's handpicked allies in Hong Kong are expected to lose support in the Sept. 12 legislative elections.
"A lot of people feel Ho's arrest is a setup," said Liu Kin-ming, editorial page editor with the Apple Daily, a pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper. "Six months is quite extraordinary."
Officials with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, the ruling party sympathetic to Beijing, declined to comment on the case, as did Chan Kam-lam, their candidate running against Ho in the Kowloon East constituency.
Ho's wife added to suspicions about the case Tuesday when she said mainland Chinese authorities had brought a prostitute to her husband's hotel room in Guangdong's Dongguan region, beat him and then denied him food and water until he signed a confession.
"Democrat Jailed After Frame-Up With Prostitute," blared the headline of the South China Morning Post. "Suspected of Paying for Sex, Ho Wai-To Sentenced to Six Months in Labor Camp," said the Ming Bao daily.
"This is either a juicy little sex scandal, which the Hong Kong papers love, or a political scandal, which the Hong Kong papers love," said Michael DeGolyer, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University. "There's nothing like having conspiracy, sex and shame all wrapped up into one."
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Chinese security officials in Dongguan denied entrapping Ho and said he was detained as part of routine vice raids undertaken Thursday and Friday. They said that Ho admitted giving money to the woman, identified only by the last name of Chao, and that they had no idea Ho was a pro-democracy candidate when they arrested him.
The scandal has fueled conspiracy theories in which Ho is viewed as an inadvertent player in mainland power struggles between forces aligned with former President Jiang Zemin — who retains substantial influence over China's military and Beijing's policies on Hong Kong and Taiwan — and those aligned with the more moderate leadership team of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
Some people suspect that Ho's arrest was engineered to humiliate the pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong and thereby undercut Hu and Wen. But others believe it was engineered to spark a backlash against pro-Beijing forces in Hong Kong associated with Jiang.
Political analysts say Ho, who was facing two stronger candidates, had little chance of winning even before the uproar. Under Hong Kong election rules, he is automatically disqualified if he is serving a jail term on election day.
Even if Chinese authorities did not engineer Ho's arrest, the reaction to the case underscores how much goodwill Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong have lost among residents after a series of policy and public relations missteps.
These include mishandling the economy and the SARS epidemic, a heavy-handed campaign in late 2003 condemning democracy supporters as "anti-patriotic" and "anti-Motherland," the recent resignations of local columnists and radio talk show hosts who said they were harassed for exercising their rights to free speech and overt pressure on Hong Kong businesspeople working in China to vote a pro-Beijing line back home.
"We don't have a very clear picture with this Ho case," said Cheng Yu-shek, a social studies professor at Hong Kong City University. "When the stakes are high, though, there's a general feeling that Beijing could do something drastic."
(AP via The Guardian) Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Candidate Arrested. By Min Lee. August 18, 2004.
A pro-democracy candidate for Hong Kong's legislature was arrested in mainland China for allegedly having sex with a prostitute and will spend six months in jail, Chinese police and a party colleague said Tuesday.
A party colleague said Ho Wai-to's arrest on Friday was aimed at spoiling his chances in the Sept. 12 legislative elections, expected to show a surge in support for pro-democracy lawmakers at the expense of the Beijing government's local allies.
China considers opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong to be troublemakers because of their harsh criticism of the Chinese government, and Beijing has banned many from the mainland. A former British colony, Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Ho was arrested in a hotel room while on a business trip in the city of Dongguan in the mainland Chinese province of Guangdong, said fellow Democratic Party member James To, citing information from Ho's wife, who has met with her husband.
Police spokesman Li Zelin of the southern Chinese city of Dongguan confirmed the arrest.
Ho says he was framed by police and signed a confession after being beaten and deprived of food and water, To said. Li said Ho's arrest was based on ``ample evidence.''
Ho has been ordered detained for six months, forcing him to watch from afar as Beijing's local allies, who control Hong Kong's legislature, try to fend off a challenge from the pro-democracy camp in next month's elections.
It is unclear if Ho can remain on the ballot.
Hong Kong law disqualifies candidates who have been convicted of an offense within five years of election day that results in a prison term of three months or longer.
It isn't clear if Ho's detention constitutes a jail term and election officials will seek clarification, said Teresa Sair, a spokeswoman for the Registration and Electoral Office.
Human rights groups have previously accused China of jailing dissidents on fabricated charges of hiring prostitutes. China typically fines clients of prostitutes.
(AP via SFGate.com) Hong Kong pro-Beijing politicians accuse opponents of misleading public over sex scandal. By Helen Luk. August 18, 2004.
Human rights activists on Wednesday condemned the detention of a Hong Kong pro-democracy politician for allegedly having sex with a prostitute, and his sentencing without trial to six months of "re-education through labor."
Chinese mainland police arrested Ho Wai-to on Friday in southern Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong. Party colleague Fred Li said Tuesday that Ho's detention was aimed at spoiling his chances in Sept. 12 legislative elections -- expected to show a surge in support for pro-democracy lawmakers at the expense of Beijing's Hong Kong allies.
Democratic Party colleagues said Ho told them he was framed by police who beat and coerced him into signing a confession.
In a statement Wednesday, Amnesty International in Hong Kong criticized China for detaining Ho without trial and sentencing him to a labor camp, where offenders work either in factories or at job sites and attend political classes.
The group urged Beijing to "abolish this abusive system of detention," which "is a violation of international human rights standards."
But lawmakers of Hong Kong's top pro-Beijing party denied any wrongdoing and accused the Democrats of dressing up the scandal as political persecution.
"The Democrats are trying to politicize the incident to make people believe that Ho is a victim," said Yeung Yiu-chung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, or DAB.
Chan Kam-lam, a DAB candidate seeking re-election in the same constituency as Ho, said his opponents were trying to "evade responsibility."
"They kept denying the incident and claimed this was political persecution, but that contradicted with the facts. The public will make their own judgment," Chan said.
Li, who is Ho's running partner, questioned why Ho was given such a long sentence. China typically fines clients of prostitutes, and human rights groups have previously accused China of jailing dissidents on fabricated charges of paying for sex.
Chinese law permits committees made up of police and local authorities to send prostitutes, drug addicts and others suspected of minor offenses to re-education through labor camps for up to three years without trial.
(SCMP) Medical release sought for Democrat. By Chow Chung-yun. August 18, 2004.
Family and supporters of detained Democrat Alex Ho Wai-to vowed yesterday to fight for his release on medical parole, as Guangdong police said they had found him naked in bed with a prostitute.
A tearful Lai Fung-sim, Mr Ho's wife, still insisted she believed her husband was innocent and said he urgently needed medicine to treat his hepatitis.
Democratic Party member Fred Li Wah-ming, who questioned on Monday night whether the arrest could be a political plot, said yesterday: "We want him back in Hong Kong as soon as possible. What we will now try to do is to get him medical parole."
They were speaking after meeting Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, who said he was "concerned" and would follow up the matter, especially if it involved unfair treatment.
The arrest of Mr Ho - a Kowloon East election candidate - was disclosed by the Democratic Party on Monday night.
Yesterday, Dongguan Public Security Bureau released details of the case, saying Mr Ho had been arrested in the Huiyuan Haiyi Hotel in Humen during a routine anti-vice operation early on Friday, along with a 25-year-old prostitute from Anhui province .
It said Mr Ho and the prostitute had been sentenced by the police to six months of re-education through labour and would be kept in Dongguan Dalan Detention Centre until February 1, 2005.
"When police stormed the room, our officers found a man and a woman completely naked in bed. The man was found to be a Hong Kong resident named Ho Wai-to," bureau spokesman Li Zelin said.
Officers also found an opened condom packet, blood-stained tissue paper in the rubbish bin and several unused condoms in Mr Ho's luggage.
In a rare press conference, the police spokesman said Mr Ho confessed he had flushed the used condom down the toilet. He said the pair admitted they had illegal sex.
He said Mr Ho had met the prostitute in the karaoke parlour of the hotel last Thursday and was found at 5am on Friday during a crackdown on prostitution. Police arrested more than 10 people and raided four hotels in the operation.
Mr Li rejected claims that Mr Ho had been arrested in a politically inspired frame-up and had been forced to sign a confession after being beaten and denied food. "The duration of the sentence is in accordance with our law and it is within the public security bureau's power to sentence prostitutes and their patrons to labour re-education without a court trial."
(SCMP) Frame-up allegation dumped by Democrats. By Ambrose Leung. August 18, 2004.
The Democratic Party yesterday retreated from its claim that one of its election candidates may have been the victim of a political frame-up when he was detained in Guangdong for patronising a prostitute.
Fred Li Wah-ming, who heads the party's list in Kowloon East where Alex Ho Wai-to is running, was tight-lipped about whether the support the party had shown Mr Ho would rebound on its election campaign.
It was not clear last night whether the six months' administrative detention given to Mr Ho by the Dongguan Public Security Bureau equated to imprisonment, which would disqualify him from the election. A spokesman for the Electoral Affairs Commission said it would seek advice from the Department of Justice.
Electoral laws bar candidates who have been sentenced to more than three months' imprisonment in the five years before polling day.
Mr Li said the party did not want to dwell on the question of whether Mr Ho had visited a prostitute or whether he had been set up. "There is no evidence to show whether it was, or was not, a trap," he said.
"Mrs Ho [Lai Fung-sim] believes her husband has not committed any crime. As a party we back them up. What else can we do?"
On Monday, Democrats had questioned whether the incident might be a conspiracy intended to smear their party. But Mr Li said yesterday: "[On Monday] we only repeated what Mrs Ho told us."
Asked whether the party now believed Mr Ho had in fact visited a prostitute, he said: "He has, after all, signed a confession. "I don't want to answer whether it was a political conspiracy." But he added that the party wanted Mr Ho back in Hong Kong as soon as possible.
(The Standard) Ho's arrest defended. By Teddy Ng and Cannix Yau. August 18, 2004.
The public furore over the arrest and detention in Guangdong of Democratic Party candidate Alex Ho continued on Tuesday with mainland police insisting he is guilty of hiring a prostitute while tearful family members said their trust in Ho is unshaken.
In a hastily convened press conference, the Dongguan Public Security Bureau said Ho and a woman were found naked inside a hotel room as a part of a routine vice operation that was conducted in a "civilised manner''.
Obviously responding to the heat of public opinion in Hong Kong, bureau spokesman Li Zelin gave reporters rare detail in explaining why Ho and the woman have been sentenced to six months of "re-education through labour''.
"We have collected enough evidence through our investigation,'' Li said. "There was no unfair treatment. The operation was conducted in a civilised manner.''
There was no trial or court proceedings before the sentencing and the bureau exercised its discretion in handing down the tough sentence.
In most instances, those charged with prostitution in China are fined and detained for up to two weeks, although the law allows for much harsher punishment.
The case underscores the radically different legal systems in Hong Kong and the mainland and has raised worries that Ho was targeted because of his Democratic Party affiliation.
In Hong Kong, Ho's wife, Carol, crying and visibly shaken, said in a quivering voice that she completely trusts her husband.
She accused the Dongguan officers of threatening to charge Ho with rape - which carries a long prison term - if he did not confess his guilt.
"I don't want to repeat the details of this incident. I don't care what other people think of my husband. I have complete faith in him,'' she said flanked by her son, Billy, and sister-in-law Ho Ka-yee. "Right now I am deeply concerned about his health because he is suffering from a liver disease. He needs medication three times a week otherwise he will suffer a hardening of the liver,'' she said sobbing. ``I have no other thought but to get him released as soon as possible for medical treatment.''
Ho is suffering from hepatitis B, an infectious blood-transmitted liver ailment that can lead to severe complications if untreated. On several occasions in the past, prisoners with medical problems have been freed on parole, giving Ho some hope of an early release.
Mrs Ho said she had appealed to Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee for help in seeking her husband's immediate release.
Without commenting on the guilt or innocence of Ho, human rights group Amnesty International said the use of summary detention without trial is a violation of international human rights accords to which China is a signatory.
The Democratic Party, which had earlier said the incident raised suspicions of a conspiracy against the party, appeared to soften its stance.
Fred Li, Ho's running mate in Kowloon East, said the party would not make any judgment until it has the full facts.
"So far we don't have sufficient evidence to decide whether Ho committed a crime or whether it was a frame-up or a political conspiracy. We need to seek his immediate release first so that he can personally clear up the matter. Mrs Ho still believes he did not commit any crime. We must back her and do what we can to seek his release,'' he said.
Li also declined to comment on what impact the incident would have on the party in the September 12 Legislative Council election.
"Election campaigns are nothing when compared to personal safety. We are concerned about Ho's safety. Competing for seats is just secondary,'' he said.
In Dongguan, Li Zelin said Article 30 of the Security Administration Punishment Act stipulated that any offender on a prostitution charge was subject to detention of not more than 15 days, or a warning.
The police, however, have the discretion under a National People's Congress ruling on prostitution, to impose compulsory re-education through labour for six months to two years without trial.
Li did not explain why Ho received the harsher punishment.
Officers raided room 1410 of the Springwood Harbour Hotel early Friday morning and allegedly found Ho and a naked 25-year-old woman whose name was given only as Zhou from Anhui province.
Li said the officers found a condom wrapping in the bin and Ho admitted that the used condom had been flushed down the toilet. Li said officers found more condoms in Ho's luggage and some blood-stained tissues.
Ho admitted he was involved in the sex trade with Zhou, Li told reporters. However, he declined to disclose details of the financial transaction involved.
Li said officers hit four so-called "black spots'' during the operation and that more than 10 people had been arrested. He did not say what punishments had been meted out to other offenders.
Li also denied accusations made by Mrs Ho on Monday that Ho had been beaten and denied food and water until he confessed. "We have not beaten him up,'' Li said, adding he was given food and medical care when necessary. Ho's family could visit him, Li said.
He stressed that the raid was a routine operation and that Public Security Bureau officers were not targeting at any particular person.
Asked why the operation was conducted shortly before the September Legco election, Li only stressed that the operation was conducted legally as part of an ongoing 100-day anti-crime drive in Dongguan.
Meanwhile, Security Secretary Lee admitted the Dongguan authorities had not notified the Hong Kong government about the arrest but that he did receive a request for help from Mrs Ho.
He pledged to contact the relevant authorities for more information but advised Hong Kong people to abide by mainland laws when they visited the mainland.
"I have to reiterate that when Hong Kong people are outside Hong Kong, no matter whether it is the mainland or overseas, they must respect the laws of the place,'' he said.
CHINESE LANGUAGE COVERAGE IN HONG KONG
[translation] Legislative Council candidate for the Democratic Party in the Kowloon East district Alex Ho was involved in a mainland scandal about prostitutes. He is presently still under detention by the Fumen Public Security Bureau. According to local law enforcement authorities, the Public Security Bureau was conducting an anti-yellow operation under the codename "Operation Clean Sweep" and arrested Alex Ho on a hotel bed. At the time, Alex Ho was lying stark naked with a woman.
But according to the conference held by Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum, Ho's wife offered a different version in which this was a frame-up. Yeung emphasized that Ho is self-respecting person who would get out of an elevator on the mainland if there was only a single woman in it. Ho and his wife are said to be an ideal couple.
The Dongguan Public Security Bureau was furious when they heard that the Democrats accused them of a frame-up, and promised to make a public response. According to the Fumen Public Security Bureau sources, "Operation Clean Sweep" had been planned for over a month and took place last Friday. At 1am that day, the law enforcement personnel proceeded to a four-star hotel and found a middle-aged male and an adult female stark naked on the bed. At the time, they did not realize who the individual was. That night, half a dozen Hong Kong men were arrested, some of them being Ho's companions.
The Public Security Bureau source said that after the arrest, Alex Ho confessed that he came north with half a dozen friends for business and pleasure. They first went to a karaoke place, and then they took women to their rooms. The source that since Ho's name sounded familiar, they sought the guidance of their superiors and they were surprised that Ho was indeed the Hong Kong Democratic Party Legislative Council candidate.
However, Democratic Party Chairman Yeung Sum and Vice Chairman Albert Ho presented a different version according to Alex Ho's wife. The wife is on the mainland at present, possibly in Dongguan, and so did not present the case in person. According to Fred Li Wah-Ming, who is on the same candidate list as Alex Ho, Ho is a manager for a Japanese-capital clothing manufacturing factory and had told the company that he was on company business this time. On the night of the incident, Ho was sleeping in his room. Suddenly, the phone rang. He picked up the phone but there was no sound. Shortly afterwards, someone knocked on the door and entered, assaulting Ho and pouring water on him. Then someone placed some female clothing and a condom on this bed. Then a woman entered the room, and Ho was forced to have some pictures takes with the woman.
Fred Li Wah-ming continued to say that after Ho was arrested, he refused to sign a confession. So he was beaten and denied food until he finally gave up and signed the confession. Lee said that Mrs. Ho told him that her husband has been sentenced to six months in prison. The Democratic Party had contacted the Security Bureau in Hong Kong yesterday about this matter, but the deputy Secretary Wong Wai-lun said that he has not heard that Alex Ho was detained on the mainland. The Democratic Party will be meeting Security Bureau Chief Li Shiu-kwong toady.
According to Fred Li Wah-ming, Ho was not seriously injured but he looked worn out and frightened. He has said that he will not run in the election when he returns. Democratic Party vice chairman Albert Ho point out that there are four suspicious points in this case: why was Ho beaten by mainland law enforcement personnel? why was he denied food? what was he sentenced with a trial? and why was the Hong Kong government not informed?
According to the Dongguan Public Security Bureau source, Alex Ho is presently detained in the Number Two Detention Facility of the Dongguan Public Security Bureau. That detention facility is located in Dalan. Ho is in solitary confinement. Ho is charged with violating administrative regulation, and can be held by the Public Security Bureau chief for between 7 to 15 days and he will be released after paying a fine between three to five thousand yuan. Ho's life in the detention center is routine, but he has not yet received any visitors.
The Security Bureau spokesperson said that the Immigration Department has received a request of help and the special group for Hong Kong residents abroad is actively following up on this case. The Special Administrative Region will offer all possible assistance.
(Ming Pao) August 18, 2004.
[translation] Szeto Wah said that the Alex Ho affair is unusual: "I believe that Alex Ho must be alert and would not be doing that (visiting prostitutes) at this time. Therefore, I believe that it is quite likely to be political persecution." When asked if this affair would affect the election in the Kowloon East District, he said calmly: "I think the impact won't be large. If this is a 'frame-up', there might even be a sympathy vote."
(The Sun) August 18, 2004.
[translation] The prostitute scandal of Democratic Party Kowloon East Legislative Council candidate Alex Ho reached a turning point after the Dongguan Public Security Bureau held its own press conference yesterday afternoon to explain how the case was handled. The day before, the Democratic Party was describing the case as one of political persecution and that Alex Ho was beaten into confessing. Those assertions have now been shattered. Yesterday, the Democratic Party took a U turn at the press conference. When they met with Public Security Bureau chief Ambrose Lee, they did not complain. They only say that the Alex Ho suffers from hepatitis B and they hope that he can come back to Hong Kong for medical care.
On the previous evening, the Democratic Party members claimed on their press conference that Mrs. Ho told them that Alex Ho was beaten by the police officers, that he was forbidden to eat until he signed a confession and the key point was "torture." But yesterday, Mrs. Ho clarified that her husband had no visible injury other than a bruise on his shoulder, which was probably caused during the struggle with the police officers.
Mr. Ho did not say that the police officers refused to give him food. She only said that the food was bad, and difficult to swallow. She did not say that the confession was beaten out of him, only that the Public Security Bureau threatened and encouraged him: "Someone told him that if he signs, he can leave on Monday; if he refuses to sign, he may be prosecuted for rape and sent to jail for one year." She also said that she did not want more hassles about the evidence or the political implications. "Anyway, I believe in my husband one hundred percent." Li Wah-ming, who is on the same ticket as Alex Ho in the Kowloon East district said, "The affair is getting hotter and hotter, but there is no evidence that Alex Ho was wrongfully blamed."
The Democratic Party said the previous evening that this was a case of political persecution and offered two suspicious points: Alex Ho was arrested but the local Public Security Bureau did not notify the Hong Kong SAR; and the long sentence of six months. These two suspicious points have now been clarified, and it only shows that the Democrats are ignorant about Chinese law.
In yesterday's press conference, Democratic Party vice chairman Albert Ho said that Alex Ho had been held in a detention center and not a prison, which means that the Public Security Bureau is not required to notify the Hong Kong SAR. As to why the sentence was six months, Chinese legal experts point out that serious cases are given longer sentences.
(Ming Pao) August 18, 2004.
According to sources in Guangdong, the police have been running an operation against prostitution and gambling spearheaded by the provincial Public Security Bureau working with the local police. Hong Kong Democratic Party Legislative Council candidate Alex Ho was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" in Dongguan. According to the Guangdong police source, the operation began in July and has gone on for about 50 days. This is a routine annual operation, and does not have any special political meaning.
A nightclub owner who wishes to remain anonymous said that Alex Ho got into trouble because he did not know the "industry standard." Since he did not have a good relationship with the hotel public relations people, he did not receive 'special treatment.' This nightclub owner's nightclub is visited by many Hong Kong political figures and celebrities, for karaoke, saunas, massages, etc. But when they receive police tips, they tell their customers to "stop" and therefore no one is caught and exposed.
Yesterday, our reporter found out that although the anti-crime operation is going on in Shenzhen, there are different points of pressure. Some areas show nerves, but other areas are normal as usual. Many experienced Hong Kong people seem to be playing hide-and-seek with the police by moving from one area to another. Most people don't care about the Alex Ho case, because they think that this is a simple case in which the person was caught through carelessness. The only reason that this case received attention was because he is a Democratic Party legislative council candidate.
Huiyuan Hotel, Humen Town,
Dongguan, Guangdong Province, China
(Ming Pao) The confession of Alex Ho.
[translation of statement] It happened like this. Last night (August 12, around 7pm), I called the woman named Zhou and she booked Karaoke Room 361 for me. Around 9pm, I went to Room 361 to sing. At the time, there was also Li Fuseng and his friends, a total of seven people. Because the Zhou woman had other customers who wanted to book a room, she did not come to Room 361 to select songs for us.
Around midnight, Li Fuseng obtained a guest room for me (room number 1410). After he gave me the room card, the Zhou dropped by Room 361 and she asked me, "Where are you staying tonight." I said, "I am staying in Room 1410 at the Huiyuan Hotel. If you have time after work, please drop by my room."
I stayed in Room 361 until 1pm, and then I told Li Fuseng: "I am going up to Room 1410." When I got into Room 1410, I took a bath and then I went to bed. At around 3am, a stranger called my room. I was awaken by the telephone ring and I picked up the telephone. A man began to speak, and then I heard him say to himself, "I'm looking for a woman." Then he hung up the telephone. At the time, I realized that my mobile phone was turned off. So I turned it on.
When I turned on the telephone, I found a message that the Zhou woman had called me. So I called him with the mobile phone. She said, "I don't know your room number." I said, "I am staying in Room 1410." She said, "I am at your door."
I got up and opened the door, and saw X Lan with a box of dumplings. She stayed in the room to eat the dumplings and chatted with me. Around 4pm, I and X Lan sat on the bed and we began to get intimate. We began by kissing and embracing. At the time, I wanted to have sex with X Lan. I wanted to take off her clothes. She took off her clothes on her own, and she was wearing only panties ... (explicit description of sexual acts deleted) ... After a few minutes, I went into the bathroom and took off the condom. I threw it into the toilet blow and flushed it down. Afterwards, I washed my male member and then dried myself with a towel. When I came out of the bathroom, X Lan said she was soiled. There was blood on the towel. Then she went into the bathroom to take a bath. After that, the police in for room inspection.
Q: Have you had sex with Zhou X Lan before this?
A: Yes, just once.
Q: When and where did you have sex with Zhou X Lan?
A: In the early morning of July 31, 2004 in a room at the Huiyuan Hotel. I can't remember the room number.
Q: Please describe the events when you had sex with Zhou X Lan on that occasion.
A: The details are like this. On July 31, I asked Zhou X Lan to book a room for me at the Huiyuan Hotel for me. I can't remember the room number. I ate in the room and then I sang and drank in the room.
Around 1230am, I went up to the hotel room to sleep. Around 2pm, Zhou X Lan and a female named Ah Xia (about 21 years old, no details, seems to be a DJ as well) came to my room. The three of us sat in the room to chat.
After a while, Zhou X Lan told Ah Xia to go out and buy some snacks. Ah Xia went out and I was with X Lan in the room. Ah Xia bought a box of dumplings back, and then she left leaving me and X Lan. After we finished eating the dumplings, we began to kiss and caress. We both took off our clothes. I took a condom out of my briefcase ... (explicit description of sexual acts is deleted).
I threw the condom which contained my sperm into the toilet bowl and flushed it away. After we took baths, I went to the hotel to order a taxicab to take her to near the Xinzhou Shopping Center. During the trip when I was taking her back, I gave her 1,000 yuan. Then I got a taxicab and went back to hotel to sleep.
Q: How many times did you have sex with Zhou X Lan?
A: Twice. The first time was on July 31, 2004. The second times was on August 13.
Q: How much money did you pay in total.
A: The first time, I gave her 1,000 yuan.
Q: Did you pay the second time?
Q: Apart from giving Zhou X Lan, did you give her anything else?
A: About two or three months ago, I gave her a Nokia mobile phone which is worth about 1,200 Hong Kong dollars.
Q: When you had sex with Zhou X Lan, did she do so willingly?
Q: Is there anything you want to add?
Q: Is your testimony above true?
A: It is true.
(Ming Pao) The confession of Ms. Zhou.
My name is Zhou X Lan. I am female. I was born on December 26, 1979. I am 26 years old, Han ethnicity, unmarried, high school education. I am from Anhui province, and I work at the Karaoke bar in the Huiyuan Hyatt Hotel in Humen Town, Dongguan.
Q: Do you know that man?
A: I do. I call him Big Brother Ho. He is about 40 years old. He is from Hong Kong. I don't know where he lives. I don't know his real name.
Q: How long have you know Big Brother No.
A: In June 2004, I was a DJ at the Huiyuan Hotel in Humen. I got to know him when he came in. He treated me like his girlfriend.
Q: How many times have you been in a room with him?
A: Just this once.
Q: What did you do in the room?
A: We made love in the room.
Q: How many times did you do it?
Q: What does half mean?
A: My period came when I was making love with him. So he did not ejaculate. That is why it is half.
Q: Did you discuss any terms with Big Brother Ho?
Q: Did he give you anything valuable?
A: A month ago, he gave me a Nokia 6610 mobile phone.
Q: Did he give you any money?
Q: Who introduced Big Brother Ho to you?
A: Nobody introduced us.
Q: How did you end up in Room 1410 of Huiyuan Hotel.
A: Last night (August 12, 2004) at around 9pm, Big Brother Ho came to our Karaoke bar. They stayed till 1pm. When Big Brother Ho was at the Karaoke, he told me that he was staying in Room 1401, and he told me to drop by if I have time. Then he left by himself. I went to have a midnight snack, and I got an order of food to bring to Big Brother Ho. It was around 4pam. We chatted for a while, and then Big Brother Ho embraced me. We took off our clothes and we got into the bed. We caressed each other ... (explicit description of sexual acts is removed) ... You came in when I was taking a shower.
Q: To whom does the condom belong?
A: I don't know.
Q: Did Big Brother Ho make any promises?
Q: When did Big Brother Ho come to Humen?
A: He called me last night at 8pm to book a Karaoke room. Then he went to the Upper Island Coffee Shop in Humen to have dinner. We ate until 9pm and then we went into the reserved Karaoke room (Room number 361). There was only the two of us drinking, singing and chatting. There was a service person who last name is Liu, approximately 20 years old but I don't know the address. Later on, Big Brother Ho had several friends in there.
Q: Are you married?
Q: What about Big Brother Ho?
A: When he first knew me, he said that he has a family.
Q: Why did you go to have sex with him?
A: I thought that since he gave me a telephone as a gift, so I had sex with him.
Q: Honestly, how many times did you have sex with me?
A: Before to this, about more than 10 days ago, he came to the Huiyuan Karaoke and he made love in the Huiyuan Hotel.
Q: You tell us what happened.
A: More than ten days ago, Big Brother Ho came down to the Huiyuan Karaoke. Afterwards, Big Brother Ho went up his room on the 17th floor. I went out to have a snack with my colleague. Afterwards, I took an order of food and went with my colleague to Big Brother Ho's room on the 17th floor. It was about 3am at the time. We chatted for a while. Then someone telephoned my colleague and she had to leave. So I was alone with Big Brother Ho. Then we had sex.
Q: And then what?
A: After making sex, he took me back home in a taxi. On the car, he gave me 1,000 yuan.
Q: Did you wear a condom when you made love?
A: When we made love, he wore one.
Q: Who wore it?
A: He wore it.
Q: How many times did you have sex with him?
Q: What did you receive?
A: I received Nokia mobile phone and 1,000 yuan.
Q: Where is the mobile phone now?
A: I gave the mobile away to a friend of mine. Last name Sheh, female, 29 years old, from Hunan.
Q: And the 1,000 yuan?
A: I used it to pay rent.
Q: Did you have sex with anyone else?
Q: What is Big Brother Ho's occupation?
A: I don't know.
Q: Have you done anything else that breaks the law?
Q: Do you anything else to say?
Q: Did we force you to say things during the interrogation?
Technical note: A technical defense has been offered that since this was the second encounter without any financial transaction, it meant that they were just carrying an extramarital affair that would not come under the prostitution statute. But the key point is that she does not know his full name (beyond referring to him as Big Brother Ho), and this is the telltale indicator for the Public Security Bureau.
(Next Weekly via ChineseNewsNet)
[translation] On the afternoon of August 17, the Next Weekly reporter visited the place of the incident, the Huiyuan Hyatt Hotel in Dongguan. He found that the hotel looked normal, but as soon as night fell, it got very hot. The reporter went to the Hyatt Karaoke palor on the third floor. As soon as he entered, he was greeted by a whole group of women wearing low-cut dresses under the sign for a Haiwaiian Festival. He was brought into a room.
Soon a female named Xiaohong entered, and she was the Mama-san who greeted Alex Ho last Friday. She admitted the female named Zhou who was arrested with Alex Ho was a singer working for her. "Never mind! She was arrested. She was a singer here, and she has been with us for about half a year. About two months ago, a Hong Kong person came here. He is tall and wears glasses. He says that he is a factory manager and his name is Ho. As soon as he saw her, he said, 'I want this one! I want this one!' After a few drinks, they loosened up and he was kissing her breasts."
According to Xiaohong, around 8pm on August 12, Alex Ho appeared again at the Karaoke. "There were about seven or eight people that night. Besides Ho, there were two Hong Kong persons. At first, they weren't too excited but then they got more worked up later on. At 2am, after six hours, they wanted to 'go up to the room.' I have not seen him since. I found out later that he had a transaction with her on the outside. They have been sweeping 'yellow' activities on the mainland recently and he was unlucky to be caught."
Another singer Ah Wah said, "Ms. Zhou has not been working here too long. She looks very pure, she is tall, she has big eyes, she looks a bit like Vicky Zhao." When the reporter wanted to find out more, the Mama-san glared at Ah Wah, who did not say anything more.
小紅說， 8月12日晚八時許，何偉途又再出現卡拉OK，「該晚他們大概七、八個人左右吧！那個姓何以外，還有兩個香港人，最初他也不算是瘋狂，但是後來愈唱愈高漲。大約凌晨兩點左右，玩了六個鐘，他們更嚷 要『上房』！不過那次以後我就沒有見過他，後來知道他在外面另外跟她交易，近日內地嚴打掃黃，結果這一次給人抓到，真的倒霉！」
(China Daily) HK LegCo candidate arrested for taking prostitutes. By Zheng Caixiong and Joseph Li. August 17, 2004.
Police authorities in the Chinese mainland had "indisputable evidence" to convict Alex Ho Wai-to of the Democratic Party (DP) in a prostitution case. Li Zelin, a spokesman of the Dongguan Municipal Public Security Bureau, said this at a press conference Tuesday. He refuted claims that Ho had been beaten or mistreated prior to giving a confession after he was detained last Friday.
Ho, a candidate for Kowloon East constituency in the coming Legislative Council (LegCo) election, was detained for allegedly patronizing a prostitute. He has been given a six-month interment sentence and is being held at a detention camp in Dalang township, Dongguan.
"Ho had sex with a woman in a hotel room and a money transaction was involved," Li said. Li said local police conducted a routine anti-vice raid in Humen township of Dongguan last Friday.
Ho and a 25-year-old woman, surnamed Zhou, were found naked in a room in Huiyuan Hyatt Hotel at about 5:00 am. Some unused condoms and used tissue were found. But the used condom had been flushed away by Ho, Li said.
Zhou, who comes from East China's Anhui Province, admitted having sex with Ho. She said she met Ho in a local karaoke bar on Thursday evening. Ho rented the hotel room and spent the night there with her.
According to relevant Chinese laws and regulations, Ho and Zhou would be held in custody for six months, Li said. Li stressed that the police had been acting according to the law. Patronizing prostitutes is illegal on the Chinese mainland.
In Hong Kong, Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee said Tuesday that the Security Bureau was trying to obtain more details about the incident and promised to follow the case closely. He stressed that the SAR government was very concerned about Hong Kong citizens being detained outside the territory. He pledged to probe into any unfair treatment Hongkongers might receive abroad or on the mainland. But he pointed out that Hong Kong people should respect and abide by the laws of the places where they travel.
Lee subsequently met with Ho's wife Carol, her family, and some DP members to discuss the case. Speaking in a separate press conference after the meeting, Mrs Ho reiterated that she had confidence in her husband. She said she did not care whether or not there was evidence against her husband and her biggest concern was his health condition because he has a liver problem. She wanted him back in Hong Kong as soon as possible for medication.