Alex Ho Meets The Press
Previous information about the case can be found here and here.
My short summary after watching the live broadcast of the press conference was:
"I did not have sex with that woman. That is all I have to say. After today, I will never respond on this issue ever again. I will not address or refute any evidence. You'll just have to trust me. My wife trusts me.
P.S. Yes, I know that woman, she did knock on my hotel door at 3 am that night, I did let her into my room and I was naked when the police entered the room. But I don't have to tell you what we were doing because I just told you that I did not have sex with her and that should be good enough for you.
P.P.S. I am resigning from the Democratic Party this very minute, which means that their disciplinary committee won't have to conduct an internal investigation about the facts of the case.
P.P.P.S. I am going to remain being a District Councilor because my personal morals is none of your business. And the fact that the position pays tens of thousands of dollars per month has nothing to do with it."
A sampling of the newspaper coverage is further down, but here are my comments first.
I regret that no one has published a complete transcript of the 1 hour plus press conference, because it would have highlighted the evasions and contradictions. Thus, Alex Ho was willing to go into great lengths about the number of Christmas trees that he assembled during his detention period, but he just will not explain how he came to be naked on the hotel bed with an ordinary female friend at 4 am. [Note: He made the technical claim that they were not naked because he said that she was clothed, but he will not come out to say that he was clothed. You will have to read the news reports carefully on this point.] This will go down as one of the more bizarre press conferences in recent times (actually, there have been even more bizarre ones such as this one).
Abstractly, Alex Ho's approach to evidence is astonishing. Currently, there is a fervent quest to uncover the evidence for government-business collusion in the matter of the Cyberport. One can imagine a government official making the same type of claim:
I did not collude with Richard Li. That is all I have to say. After today, I will never respond on this issue ever again. I will not address or refute any evidence. You'll just have to trust me.
What will never be known is if the Democratic Party leadership strong-armed Ho to resign with the threat of a thorough investigation. I would not be surprised. Ho's resignation was the perfect bailout of a major negative asset of the Democratic Party.
Alex Ho is wrong about this being a personal moral matter that does not affect public interest. The quick poll at the bottom said that he has negatively impacted the Hong Kong people's perception of himself, the district councilors as a whole and the Democratic Party. And what should a proponent of democracy do when 61% of the population think that he should resign and only 17% think he should stay? One can also imagine how the mainland Chinese citizens think about democratically elected Hong Kong politicians as a whole. It is not clear how Alex Ho can effectively function in his job since the prostitute patronage issue will be conmingled with everything he does from now on.
There exists out there a defense that Alex Ho's transgression was a personal matter for which he is only responsible for offering an explanation to his wife, who seems to believe him. Well, I disagree. Whether he knows it or not, the Alex Ho case has become a China-Hong Kong confrontation.
When Alex Ho was arrested, the Democratic Party immediately made an accusaion that the Dongguan public security bureau employed violent force in his arrest. That charge has been formally withwdrawn with apologies to all concerned parties because Alex Ho does not support it now.
The next question was whether the Dongguan public security bureau framed Alex Ho by sending a woman to his room and then burst in later. Alex Ho refused to make that charge, but the Democratic Party will not withdraw that charge of a frame-up.
Further down the ladder of severity, the next question was whether the Dongguan public security bureau misinterpreted the circumstances in which they found the two principals and made the incorrect inference of what transpired. That was the substance of Alex Ho's assertion that he was wrongly accused of patronizing a prostitute.
But what is the Dongguan public security bureau supposed to think? At first, Alex Ho's position was that he does not want to get into any details. You should think about the propriety of claiming a wrongful accusation but not providing any counter-evidence. This does not match anyone's sense of fairness and justice. After more than one hour of probing by the press that was more painful than extracting a tooth, we now know that when the police went into the room, they observed a topless Hong Kong male lying in his hotel bed at 4 am having a 'platonic' chat with a clothed female who is not a close friend but just a service worker at the hotel karaoke. What is a reasonable person supposed to think? Is it acceptable to offer an accusation against the Dongguan public security bureau and offer this crappy description? This is the true dynamic, and not the rubbish about his private life. If he wanted to make it a purely private matter, he should not have mentioned the matter of wrongful accusation by the Dongguan public security bureau, which has rights in this matter too.
Meanwhile, we understand that the Democratic Party is saying that Alex Ho has provided them with more details in private, but unfortunately they cannot tell us because they don't have permission from Alex Ho to do so. Well, that was really nice of them to share that piece of information with us. Bullshit! If you are going to make a charge, then you ought to give us all the evidence!
P.S. Please do not send in any more emails about my not being "fair and balanced." You are wasting your time.
If I were a newspaper which proclaims to be "fair and balanced" like Ming Pao, I might have to give equal inches of column space to opposite points of view.
If I were a radio station or television channel which is licensed by the government to use public airwaves, I would be obliged to give equal time to opposite points of view.
But I am none of the above.
Nowadays, it is a common tactic for politicians to bypass tough questions from the media and say instead that justice will be rendered in the hearts of the people.
Well, I am one of the people. I am a Hong Kong resident and I am a registered voter in Hong Kong. I am therefore one of the people that politicians talk about.
I listened to what was said, and I am telling you what I think based upon what I heard. I am expressing my personal opinion as a citizen, and that is a guaranteed right.
I don't have to give equal time to anyone on my personal blog.
If you don't like what I say you should perhaps spend some time to think about why I should feel that way. After all, I may be expressing the majority point of view.
Q: The female arrived after three am. When the public security bureau officers came, she was still in the room. Did she bring some dumplings and chatted until 5am?
A: I told you at the start that I don't want to discuss this matter. Let me repeat once more. I did not have a sexual relationship with this female. I did not have a monetary transaction with this female. I did not have a sexual relationship with this female that involved a monetary transaction. I don't want to tell the media about the details. I don't want to describe it. I don't want the media to exaggerate it. Therefore, I don't want ... what can I say? Just ask yourself ... who is going to believe what I say?
Q: The public security bureau photographs show some underwear. What is your explanation?
A: I don't want to explain. You should go and ask the public security bureau yourself. I don't want to argue with them. As to why this female came so late at night, I don't know if it was a coincidence or a setup. On that day, I had some business dealings with some friends. We went to the karaoke. I left very early. Around 11pm or midnight. I did not tell the females or my friends that I was leaving. I went upstairs and I even turned off my mobile phone. I am a sound sleeper, so ringing the door bell will not wake me. But at 3am or 4am, the telephone by the bed rang. It was a male voice looking for a woman. I said that there is no female here and hung up. In less than five minutes, the door bell rang. Because I knew her and I don't want to stand outside the door, I let her in.
Q: Are the underwear and blanket yours?
A: The condoms are not mine.
Q: You feel that on matters that are favorable to you, such as the psoriasis, you are willing to go into great details, but on the key facts of the incident, you say that you don't want to get into them. Will this be convincing to the public?
A: Actually, I already said it before. I have admitted to so many things. No matter what Alex Ho has to say, I can't convince people. I have no witnesses. I have no evidence. I can't convince people. The Humen public security bureau can produce many photos, and they can have a dozen females to testify that I had relationships with them. That would not be surprising.
Q: Between some time after 3 am and sometime after 4 am, the female was still there. Do you know the female well?
A: I know the female. I have known her for a few months. She is not a prostitute. According to what I know, she is a DJ service worker. That is, she is a service worker who plays the discs in the karaoke room. Chat. She is a friend that I chat with. The Humen public security bureau accused me of patronizing a prostitute. I feel that I have said everything. I cannot guarantee that you will believe me. But I have said very clearly that I did not patronize a prostitute and I did not have a sexual relationship. Right or not? You want me to explain what I chatted with her about. I don't want to discuss this. I don't think this has any relevance with the key facts of the matter, and that is why I don't want to discuss this.
Q: Did you have any intimate acts? Did you kiss or otherwise get intimate?
A: I did not commit any sexual act with her.
Q: Why were you naked in the photographs taken by the public security bureau?
A: I don't want to talk about this. But I will tell you that it was not that both of us were naked.
Q: At the moment when the public security bureau opened the door, was the female clothed?
A: Yes, based upon what I know.
Q: The testimony of the female said that the sexual act went 'halfway'. Do you believe that when you stop 'halfway', would that count as a sexual act?
A: I said it before. I did not have any sexual relationship with her. As to what 'halfway' means, I don't understand.
Q: The female said that you have transacted with her more than once. Have you tried it during the several months that you knew her?
Q: The confession was written by you or the public security bureau before you signed it? Why did you believe in what the public security bureau people say?
A: On the day when I was arrested, I was confused and exhausted to the point where I lost my intelligence. I asked many times for a lawyer or to call friends, but I was denied. Under a situation of helplessness, if you deny it, they would charge you with rape. I said that I did not have sex with her and I did not pay her, but they said that this only meant that I intended to have a free lunch. Later, several others came along and said they would help me. They said that this was a very simple case, that it would only involve a fine and they would help me write the testimony and so on. I don't want to go into too many details. I don't want to mention it. Under this kind of persuasion, I admitted to everything.
Q: The public security bureau has many photographs, including you without clothes, the mess in the room, the paper napkins. Did you observe the public security bureau arrange the room?
A: I told you that you should ask them about those photos. I expect that they will produce even more photographs and witnesses against Alex Ho tomorrow.
Q: The Dongguan people said that you began patronizing prostitutes since 2001, and that was why you were sentenced so heavily.
A: You should think that why would an ordinary testimony go back to three years ago? This was obviously not an ordinary testimony. I was persuaded to write down this testimony. I don't want to say anything more. People can decide for themselves.
Q: Have you had any sexual transactions with any females in the past?
Q: If they can collect information in 2001, then does this prove this was started as a political action?
A: I don't know. You should ask them if they did it for politics?
Q: Do you have any personally immoral actions that make you ashamed?
A: I feel that I should be less outgoing with friends in the future.
Q: Could it be that you did not yet have a transaction with the female, you had the intention but the public security bureau came before the transaction?
A: I already told you that I don't want to explain too much ... I didn't have any sexual relationship with her. We did not have any sexual transaction that night. The half hour that I was with her was spent on pure chatting.
Q: When you chatted, were you sitting on the bed or chairs?
A: I don't want to discuss in such details. I don't think that it matters a lot whether we chatted while we were on the bed or the chairs.
Q: You did not have a sexual relationship with her. But is she your girlfriend, a liaison or an extramarital affair?
A: I deny that I have an extramarital affair. I have never had sexual relationships before.
Q: Mr. Ho, you were chatting with a mainland Chinese female friend at 3am or 4am. Did you do right by your wife?
A: I did not do anything wrong against my wife. Since I told you that I did not have a sexual relationship with her and I did not patronize a prostitute, how could I have done wrong against my wife?
Democrat Alex Ho Wai-to yesterday denied hiring a prostitute, saying the woman police found in his Guangdong hotel room last August was an "ordinary friend" who had been fully dressed. But despite his claim of innocence, he said he would leave the Democratic Party as his detention at the height of last year's legislative election campaign had damaged its poll performance. He vowed to keep his seat on Kwun Tong District Council, saying he had done nothing to harm the public.
The party last night said it respected his decision but would not decide before a meeting of the central committee later this month whether to accept his resignation. It said it deeply regretted the six-month detention imposed on Mr Ho without an open and fair trial, which it said was an infringement of his rights.
Speaking for the first time since being released from custody two weeks early, Mr Ho said he had decided to resign just five minutes before holding the press conference. He said he felt sad that during electioneering, "people called our Kowloon East team a `prostitute-hiring party' or `prostitute-hiring councillors'."
"I did not hire any prostitute, nor did I have sex with any woman on that day," he said at Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital in Wong Tai Sin, where he is being treated for hepatitis and a skin disease.
Accompanied by his wife, Lai Fung-sim, Mr Ho claimed he was forced to sign confessions at the Dalan Detention Centre in Humen, Guangdong, where he was arrested. "I had no friends or lawyers around, and I was not allowed to use the telephone," he said. "Without any protection, I signed all the confession papers. My wife asked me to be patient and confess to everything" in the hope of securing an early release. Wiping away tears, Mrs Ho said: "I absolutely trust him, I've never doubted him."
Mr Ho said he had returned to his hotel at 11pm after discussing business with friends at a karaoke lounge. "About 3 or 4am, the bedside phone rang and a man, speaking Cantonese, said he wanted to find a woman," he said. He had replied there was no woman there and hung up.
Soon afterwards, a woman who he had known for "a few months" knocked on the door. "From my understanding, she is not a prostitute. She is a disc jockey at the karaoke lounge. We're only ordinary friends," he said. Mr Ho said they had only had a casual conversation during a half-hour meeting.
While stressing the woman was dressed when public security officials raided his room, Mr Ho sidestepped questions on whether he was fully dressed. After the arrest, Dongguan Public Security Bureau officials displayed a photograph of a partly dressed Mr Ho and articles including women's underwear to justify their actions.
Mr Ho said staff at the detention centre failed to give him medicine brought by his wife, and the hepatitis he was suffering from at the time had developed into cirrhosis. "Only 20 per cent of my liver is functional," he said. He also pulled up his pyjamas to show mole-like growths on his skin, marks of the skin disease psoriasis.
At a Democratic Party press conference, chairman Lee Wing-tat said the party withdrew an earlier accusation that Dongguan public security officials had used force during the arrest. Mr Ho's resignation will avert any investigation by the party's disciplinary committee.
Disgraced district councillor Alex Ho resigned from the Democratic Party Thursday but insisted he had not done anything wrong. Ho was speaking publicly for the first time since he was arrested in a Guangdong hotel on August 13 and sentenced without trial to six months of "re-education through labor'' for allegedly soliciting the services of a prostitute. Ho vowed to remain a Kwun Tong district councillor, saying he believes the scandal has not affected his work as a public officer.
Speaking at Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital in Wong Tai Sin where he is receiving treatment for a liver ailment and a skin infection, Ho, 47, described his 168-day detention as the darkest days of his life. He accused the detention center of not offering him proper medical treatment for cirrhosis and claims his liver has now only 20 percent of its function. He lifted his shirt to show the extent of the skin ailment, psoriasis.
Accompanied by wife Carol, Kowloon East party colleagues Fred Li and Wu Chi-wai, and dozens of supporters from his constituency - Shun Tin Estate in Kwun Tong - Ho said he was quitting the Democratic Party as he felt a sense of guilt in having tarnished its image, particularly as the incident occurred only a month before the Legislative Council elections.
"The incident affected the election campaigns of my party colleagues and members. Some outsiders even branded us a `prostituting party' and myself as a 'prostituting councillor.' I felt very sorry and uncomfortable after I heard these accusations,'' he said. Ho said he saw no reason to give up his district council seat as he had not harmed the interests of the public, saying: "I did not solicit a prostitute.''
Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat said he will respect Ho's decision, which will be discussed by the party's central standing committee on February 17. He noted that as Ho has already decided to leave the party, there is no need for an internal disciplinary hearing.
Lee and vice-chairman Albert Ho both insisted they played no part in Alex Ho's decision to step down. "He did express such an intention to us when he returned to Hong Kong last Friday, but I told him that he was not required to do so. "But when we talked again on Wednesday night, he said that he would leave the party,'' Albert Ho said.
Asked whether he believed Alex Ho was innocent, Lee said the party could not make any judgment without concrete evidence. However, Lee did express discontent at the absence of an open trial and the lack of proper medical treatment while Ho was detained.
Replying to a charge by the Dongguan public security bureau last September that he had made two sex transactions with a 25-year-old prostitute from Anhui province, Ho said he had known the woman for some time before his arrest.
He said the woman had arrived at his hotel room between 3am and 4am on the night in question and was there for about half an hour before public security officers came in and arrested them. Ho said that he was just chatting with the woman and denied having sex, making any sexual transaction or having any close physical contact with her.
"I had known the woman for a couple of months and, as I understand, she was a disc jockey in a karaoke and not a prostitute,'' Ho said. "She is just an ordinary friend and I let her in for a chat, but we never had sex or entered into any sex transaction.''
But he would not say what they spoke about, arguing it did not have any direct bearing on the case. "The only person who has a right to know is my wife and not the public,'' he said. Ho also denied they were naked when officers broke into his hotel room.
Asked whether he thought that he was framed or falsely accused by Dongguan authorities, Ho said he would take it as a false accusation. He explained that even if he insisted he was framed, the Dongguan authorities could still produce the statements and recordings he made while under duress. "It will be meaningless as the bureau can still call for a press conference and arrange for 10 or even 100 women to say that I had sexual relations with them,'' he said.
He said he would not discuss the matter after the press conference. "This is the last time that I will talk about what happened as I do not want to recall the incident. "Even if the mainland police were to release new evidence about my arrest, I shall not respond.''
Ho's wife sat beside her husband, holding his hand tightly. She also pledged her full support. "I absolutely trust my husband. I have never had any doubts,'' she said firmly.
Ho noted that the Dongguan public security bureau had deployed dozens of officers to question and threaten him. They also did not allow him to hire a lawyer or to contact his family. "They led me to believe that if I admitted the charge, I could get an early release. Otherwise, they said they would charge me with rape,'' he said.
[translation] The principal character in the prostitution incident Alex Ho met with the press for more than one hour yesterday. But there are still five huge questions that remain unexplained. Whether Alex Ho was wrong accused or rightly guilty is a matter of dispute between the Dongguan public security bureau and Alex Ho, which the citizens will have to judge for themselves.
The questions are centered around what happened between Alex Ho and Ms. Zhou in the middle of the night at the hotel room for almost one hour.
Question 1: Alex Ho said that he knew the girl for several months, but they do not know each other well. So why did the girl drop by in the middle of the night and why would Alex Ho open the door and let her in? According to Alex Ho, they were just having a 'platonic chat' in the room.
Question 2: If they don't know each other well, what is there to talk about in the middle of the night? According to Alex Ho, he just likes to chat. He did not say that there was anything important to talk about. He only admitted that it was about things that were not very important.
Question 3: If they were just chatting, then how come the Dongguan public security bureau exhibited photographs of Alex Ho completely naked at the scene, with clothing and condoms scattered all over the room? Alex Ho emphasized that Ms. Zhou had clothes on. As to why he himself did not have clothes on, he only said, "I don't want to explain" and he told the press to check with the Dongguan public security bureau. He emphasized that the condoms were not his, and he has not even seen them before.
Question 4: Alex Ho insisted that he was wrongly accused. When the press asked him if he was 'framed', he said that he did not know. He evaded providing the details of that day, and he only reiterated that he did not have sexual relations or transactions with that female.
Question 5: Was Alex Ho's 5-1/2 month at the detention like the public security bureau's photo of him happily playing badminton? Or was it like what he said yesterday about being in a hell on earth, with people watching over him 24 hours a day and wearing 10+ kilogram shackles just to see a doctor? This remains for the public security bureau to explain.
[translation] Democratic Party district councilor Alex Ho who served labor re-education after being found guilty of patronizing prostitutes in Dongguan was released last week and returned to Hong Kong. Yesterday, he offered a public explanation and reiterated many times "I did not patronize a prostitute." He maintained that he was 'innocent' and then he signed the confession upon false representations. But he admitted that he met for more than one hour in his hotel room with Ms. Zhou, whom he had known for several months. He was adamant about not disclosing the details. Alex Ho said that he did not have any sexual intercourse with any female, and he did not commit anything that was unfaithful to his wife. "If you believe in Alex Ho, I'll be very happy. If you don't believe in Alex Ho, there isn't anything I can do."
In the company of his wife, Democratic Party Legislator Lee Wah-ming and Democratic Party Central Standing Committee Fung Wai-kwong, Alex Ho held a press conference at the hospital. He said that on the night of the incident, he met with friends at the karaoke. After 11pm, he returned to his room to sleep by himself. Around 3am, a man called up his room and used Cantonese to ask him if he "wanted a girl." Ho said no, and the other party apologized and hung up.
Five minutes later, Ms. Zhou whom he had known for several months rang his door bell. He thought that she had some important matter, so he let her enter the room. More than one hour later, he was arrested by the public security bureau people. Alex Ho said that they were only chatting, but he would not say what they chatted about. He would not say whether they sat on the bed or on chairs. He said that the key point about the case is whether he patronized a prostitute, so that all other details are irrelevant. He repeated many times that "I did not patronize a prostitute. I did not have sexual relationships with any female." As to whether he had attempted to have sexual intercourse, Alex Ho said "I don't want to explain. That half hour was spent purely on chatting."
The local public security bureau had previously revealed the evidence about Alex Ho patronizing prostitutes, including paper napkins, underwear, condoms found in the room. Alex Ho said that he had no idea what the public security bureau did in his hotel room. He said that the condoms were not his. As to why the public security bureau had a nude photograph of him, he did not explain but only said that Ms. Zhou had clothes on.
Alex Ho said that he did not have sexual intercourse or transaction with Ms. Zhou. He also has not had any extramarital affairs. According to Alex Ho, the reason why he admitted an ordinary female friend into this room in the middle of the night was that he is a talkative person. "I think that I should be more reserved in the future with my friends. This is a habit that is a fatal flaw." He believes that if he has personal moral problems, "I only have to deal with my wife and it is not the public's business."
Alex Ho denies the prostitute patronage charges made by the public security bureau. The contents of the confessions are wrong. "I thought that I was wrongly accused." He signed the confessions because he was encouraged by his wife to get a release as quickly as possible. "I have no friends. The public security bureau would not let me make any telephone calls. They won't let me get a lawyer. I was induced to sign the confession. As a lone individual, I know that I cannot fight the vast public security apparatus."
(Apple Daily) February 7, 2005.
何 偉 途 昨 日 在 記 者 會 上 ， 一 直 未 有 交 代 被 公 安 拘 捕 當 晚， 由 凌 晨 三 時 他 的 女 性 朋 友 進 入 他 房 間 ， 到 凌 晨 四 時 半 公 安 入 房 拉 人 期 間 的 一 個 半小 時 ， 他 和 該 女 性 友 人 除 了 談 天 外 ， 還 做 了 甚 麼 事 。 據 民 主 黨 消 息 稱 ， 他 曾 向 黨 方交 代 女 性 友 人 帶 了 消 夜 入 房 ， 其 間 他 和 女 性 朋 友 一 面 吃 消 夜 ， 一 面 談 天 。 另 外 ， 何又 未 有 解 釋 公 安 為 何 在 房 內 拍 到 他 沒 有 穿 上 衣 的 照 片 ， 但 他 強 調 女 性 朋 友 在公 安 入 房 時 是 有 穿 衣 服 的 。
[translation] At yesterday's press conference, Alex Ho did not explain what else he did between 3am when his female friend entered until 430am when the public security bureau officers arrested him besides just chatting. According to sources in the Democratic Party, he told the party officials that the female friend brought some food into the room and they ate while they chatted. Moreover, Ho did not explain how the public security bureau has a photo of him with his upper torso bared. Instead, Ho emphasized that the female friend had clothes on when the public security bureau entered the room.
[translation] Hong Kong Democratic Party district councilor Alex Ho held his first press conference six months after being detained on mainland China for patronizing a prostitute. But he used "I don't want to discuss" many times to deflect the key questions from the media, especially with respect to how he and a Dongguan female that he described as an "ordinary friend" spend two hours chatting in his room; he admitted that he did not wear any clothes on his upper torso when he was arrested, and he said that it did not matter whether they were on bed or sitting in chairs. He insisted that he did not patronize a prostitute, but he has resigned from the Democratic Party. This affair has gone darker and darker with more points of suspicion, and it is inconsistent with his claim of innocence.
According to Alex Ho, this Ms. Zhou at the Dongguan hotel room was just "an ordinary friend that he has known for several months." According to Alex Ho, he talked business with some clients at the karaoke and then he went back to the hotel at 11pm or so. Around 3am, a "totally unrelated" female rang his doorbell at the hotel. Ho said: "I know her. I did not want to talk with her by the door, so I invited her in."
Based upon common reasoning, no matter how friendly Alex Ho might be, he would not be inviting a karaoke DJ service worker to enter his room to chat in the early hours of morning. Concerning this point, Alex Ho only emphasized that "I did not have any sexual relationships with her." This sounds like someone setting up a sign that says, "There are no three hundred pieces of silver buried at this spot."
The lone male and lone female stayed in the room for an hour and a half until the public security bureau arrested them. The reporters were interested in what they talked about. But Ho said: "I don't want to talk about what happened ... I don't want to describe it." The problem is that the public cares about what happened in the room. The reporters persisted: "After 4am, the female was still in your room. What did you do with her? Could please explain to the television audience? This will allow the people to dispel their doubts." But Ho said: "I did not have a sexual relationship with her, so what we talked about does not matter."
According to the photographs provided by the Dongguan public security bureau, one can see that Alex Ho was naked on his upper body. The reporters asked Alex Ho said that since they did not have a "sexual relationship", then why would Alex Ho be naked in front of an "ordinary friend." Alex Ho replied excitedly: "It was not true that we were both naked. The girl had clothes on." "Then were you wearing clothes? Or did the police take off your clothes?" The reporters asked twice, but Ho did not reply. The suspicion arises once again. At such a late hour, Alex Ho sat without clothes on his upper torso while talking with a female that he does "not know well.' This leaves a lot for the imagination.
Finally, one reporter could not stand it anymore and asked: "You say that you did not have a sexual relationship. But did you intend to do so, which is why you took the clothes off your upper body? And when you 'chatted', did you sit on the bed or on the chairs?" Ho's answer was amusing: "I don't want to offer too many explanations ... we did not engage in any sexual acts. For that half hour, we just chatted. Whether it was on the bed or on a chair does not matter." A bed and a chair is certainly quite different, since no one would believe that an "ordinary friend" would get onto a hotel bed to have a "chat." But Ho refused to answer directly, which suggests that his refusal to say outright that they were sitting on chairs must mean that they were on the bed.
Alex Ho said that the Dongguan public security bureau wrongly accused him. He said that he was exhausted and lost his intelligence, such that he could not even remember how long Ms. Zhou was in his room. Thus, he did not know when the public security entered his room. This is obviously a "selective memory loss" because he was able to remember all the details about the things that he wanted to talk about at the press conference: "For my skin disease, I had to get seven injections at the hospital. But the time I got the third injection, I had a skin outbreak all over me ... at the detention center, I could assemble nine Christmas trees a day, each of which is sold for 200 American dollars ..."
While he can remember these details at the detention center, he "could not remember" all the important details that he should remember. Alex Ho proved his own "selective memory loss" and it left too many points of suspicion about his incomplete account which cannot remove the doubts from the public's mind.
何偉途在昨日的記者會上，聲稱在記者會前五分鐘才決定退黨，擔任記者會主持的民主黨中委馮煒光表現詫異，立即勸慰身旁的何三思。李華明(相關新聞 - 網站)則稱：「我剛剛至知（何決定退黨）。」何偉途哽咽表示自己是創黨黨員，「民主黨係我父母，永遠唔會離開」，退黨後仍會與黨內兄弟合作。
何原本願意留在黨內接受徹查，但最終決定退黨。何沒有否認是否因為背負民主黨黨員之名而被拘留，只回應說：「呢就見仁見智，各人說法心知肚明。」昨日民主黨的領導層並沒有出席何的記者會，何偉途未有回應有否感到遭放棄。李永達(相關新聞 - 網站)曾表示民主黨營救何偉途「做過」，何謂：「我不知道黨有否幫我，亦不知能否幫我。我期望不大。」只是他很感謝保安局的幫忙。
[translation] The Alex Ho incident has been a negative asset for the Democratic Party. Now that Alex Ho has announced this resignation, this will be a temporary relief from this crisis for the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has declared that since Ho is not longer a member, the party discipline is no longer applicable and therefore they cannot follow up on the problem anymore.
At yesterday's press conference, Alex Ho said that he made his decision to resign just five minutes before the press conference. Democratic Party central committee member Fung Wai-kwong who led the press conference looked surprised and turned to speak to Ho San-see on his side. Lee Wah-ming claimed: "I just found out." Alex Ho held back his tears to say: "The Democratic Party is my parents. I will never leave them." He promised to continue to work with his party brethren after his resignation.
But Alex Ho said that he has caused the party to be called "prostitute patronizing councilors" and "prostitute patronizing party" during the legislative council elections in the Kowloon East district this year. He felt sorry about that, but he denies having affected the votes for the Democratic Party because they did not lose a single vote in the Shun Tian district.
Alex Ho was originally willing to remain in the party and undergo an investigation, but he decided to resign at the end. Ho did not deny that he was arrested on account of his Democratic Party membership, and he only said: "Everyone has their opinions, and you know what it is."
Yesterday, the top leaders of the Democratic Party did not attend the press conference and Alex Ho refused to say whether he was being abandoned. Lee Wing-tat said that the Democratic Party has worked to rescue Alex Ho. Ho said: "I don't know if the Party helped me. I don't know if there was anything they could do to help me. I did not have a lot of hope." But he was grateful for the assistance from the Hong Kong Security Bureau.
The chairman and two vice-chairmen of the Democratic Party held a press conference last night. They said that the Democratic Party has not yet received the letter of resignation from Alex Ho, but they said that they would respect his decision to resign. Chairman Lee Wing-tat did not say whether they would try to retain him, but he said that the central committee will meet on the 17th of this month to discuss Ho's resignation and the need for a disciplinary investigation. He said that the impact of this incident on the Democratic Party and its relationship with the central government is not an important factor to them.
Last evening, the Democratic Party issued a statement to say that they Party has heard that Alex Ho denies having patronized a prostitute or otherwise having a sexual relationship with the female in the incident. Lee Wing-tat would not say whether the party would insist on its accusation that Alex Ho was framed by the public security bureau. He emphasized that the conduct of party members are investigated by the disciplinary committee, and if Alex Ho's resignation is accepted by the central committee, he will no longer be a party member and he can no longer be investigated.
Accordingly, the Democratic Party will not make any judgment on this case. They will only repeat what Alex Ho has said. Yet, the Democratic Party has also declined to invoke the disciplinary investigation mechanism prior to formally accepting Ho's resignation. Lee denies that this implied that they aimed to avoid the investigation, but said that they respected the decision of the principal in this case.
Furthermore, Lee pointed out that since Ho has changed his presentation, the Democratic Party will now withdraw its August 2004 accusation that the Dongguan public security bureau used violent force in arresting Ho, and they apologize to all affected parties. The Democratic Party emphasized that they are still extremely unhappy with the fact that Ho was incarcerated for almost six months without a formal court trial, relatively longer than comparable cases.
東 莞 公 安 局 指 何 偉 途 是 香 港 「 有 關 組 織 」 施 壓 情 況 下 才否 認 嫖 娼 ， 矛 頭 直 指 民 主 黨 。 有 了 解 事 情 始 末 的 民 主 黨 核 心 成 員 以 「 啞 子 吃 黃 連 」形 容 該 黨 在 此 事 上 的 困 境 ， 該 成 員 坦 言 ， 若 何 願 意 承 認 嫖 娼 ， 民 主 黨 一 定 會 道 歉 ，問 題 是 何 由 始 至 終 否 認 。 民 主 黨 已 透 過 一 些 渠 道 向 內 地 反 映 ， 「 民 主 黨 唔 會 迫 佢 唔認 ， 但 一 樣 唔 可 以 迫 佢 認 （ 嫖 娼 ） 」 。
何 偉 途 返 港 後 ， 李 永 達 曾 多 次 向 他 了 解 事 件 。 知 情 人 士 說 ， 「 達 仔 每 次 見 佢 ， 佢 老 婆 都 身 邊 ， 每 次 答 案 都 係 一 樣 （ 否 認 嫖 娼 ） ， 唔 肯 詳 細 講 同 個 女 人 單 獨 房 做 乜 」 。 何 太 亦 對 民 主 黨 表 示 不 滿 ， 有 何 的 地 區 友 人 形 容 ， 何 太 覺 得 民 主 黨 想 犧 牲 丈 夫 自 保 。
有 民 主 黨 核 心 成 員 形 容 ， 除 了 安 排 何 入 院 一 事 由 民 主 黨 負 責 外 ， 其 他 都 是 由 何太 主 導 。 據 其 了 解 ， 不 少 親 北 京 人 士 想 借 今 次 事 件 ， 再 挑 撥 民 主 黨 與 中 央 關 係 ， 「佢 篤 民 主 黨 ， 話 我 反 口 ， 應 承 低 調 ， 轉 頭 又 教 何 偉 途 否 認 嫖 娼 」 ， 但 事 實 是 何 偉 途 本 人 否 認 嫖 娼 ， 太太 又 力 撐 他 ； 目 前 民 主 黨 只 能 透 過 中 間 人 向 內 地 反 映 民 主 黨 的 困 境 ， 「 我 想 講 清 楚 ， 佢 唔 認 我 冇 得 迫 佢 ， 希 望 唔 會 令 我 同 中 央 關 係 惡 化 」 。
[translation] The Dongguan public security bureau claims that a "related organization" applied pressure to make Alex Ho deny that he hired a prostitute. Clearly, the arrow is headed straight at the Democratic Party. According to a core member of the Democratic Party who has knowledge of the details, this was a case of being accused of something that they cannot effectively respond to. This member said that if Alex Ho admits to hiring a prostitute, the Democratic Party would have apologised. But the problem was that Ho has been denying all the way. The Democratic Party has gone through certain channels to inform the mainland Chinese authorities that just as the Democratic Party "cannot force him to deny the act, it cannot force him to admit it either."
After Alex Ho returned to Hong Kong, Lee Wing-tat met with him several times to try to understand what happened. The informed source said, "Each time that Lee saw him, the wife was present. Each time, the answer was the same (he denied hiring a prostitute) and he would not explain what he was doing alone with a woman in the room." Mrs Ho is unhappy about the Democratic Party. According to friends, Mrs Ho feels that the Democratic Party wants to sacrifice Ho to save itself.
A core member of the Democratic Party said that the party was responsible only for arranging Ho to enter the hospital while Mrs Ho arranged everything else. According to his understanding, certain pro-Beijing elements wanted to use this incident to stir trouble between the Democratic Party and the central government. "They wanted to blame the Democratic Party for breaking our work. We promised a low-keyed approach, but then we turned around to tell Alex Ho to deny hiring a prostitute." The fact was that it was Alex Ho who is making the denial. Right now, the Democratic Party can only go through intermediaries to tell mainland China about the dilemma faced by the Democratic Party: "We wanted to communicate clearly that we did not force him to make the denial, and we hope that this will not cause our relationship with the central government to deteriorate."
Alex Ho, an elected member of the Kwun Tong District Council, was alleged to have hired a prostitute and held in detention for nearly half a year. He was released. He gave a press conference. However, the truth has not come out. What Ho said by way of explanation sounds far-fetched. He has given the public the impression that he is not entirely open and aboveboard and his conduct falls quite short of what becomes a district councillor. During his detention, his liver condition worsened, and he contracted psoriasis. It seems clear that inmates in the Dongguan detention centre where Ho was held are not given proper medical care. That is in breach of internationally accepted humanitarian principles. The Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) has vowed it will seek redress for Ho's mistreatment. It ought to ask questions about health care in strong terms of the Dongguan authorities.
Ho's detention had considerable impact on the Legislative Council elections that took place last September. Society is very much concerned. The Dongguan public security authorities did release photographs and a vivid account of Ho's alleged offence. Therefore, the public expected Ho to give the facts of the affair to dispel doubts after his release.
It was around three in the morning that Ho was arrested. At a press conference called the day before yesterday, Ho admitted he was then having a chat with a female friend in his hotel room but denied he had had sex or any sexual transaction with that woman. He was asked why he and that woman were in the hotel room in the small hours and why public security officers took half-naked pictures of him after they had entered his room. Ho refused to answer such questions.
Ho's explanations remind people of former US President Bill Clinton's sophistry about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton said he had not lied because oral sex did not amount to sexual intercourse.
The Alex Ho affair is not complicated. There are only three possibilities.
(1) Ho may have hired a prostitute as the Dongguan public security authorities alleged.
(2) He may have committed marital infidelities, and the woman may be his mistress rather than a prostitute.
(3) He may have neither hired a prostitute nor had any extramarital affair, he may have been alone with the woman in his hotel room in the small hours for a proper reason, and he may have been falsely accused by the Dongguan public security authorities.
Ho is a politician, and he has declared he will not resign his seat. That means he wants his voters to continue to support him. Therefore, he has to tell them the truth.
If he has had an extramarital affair, he ought to make a clean breast of it. He need not give details. His voters may accept him provided his wife forgives him.
If he has committed no marital infidelities, he must plausibly explain why he was alone with the woman in his hotel room in the small hours.
If he remains evasive and equivocal about this issue as he was the day before yesterday, people will believe he has lied and his voters will withhold their support for him.
If Ho chooses to be honest, voters may forgive and sympathise with him. After all, he was detained for more than five months without a trial. Supposing he used the services of a prostitute, he has been more than deservedly punished. Furthermore, during his detention, his liver condition worsened, and he contracted psoriasis, which has spread to all parts of his body because he was denied prompt, proper treatment. His detention has taken a heavy toll on his health. For that the Dongguan public security authorities are to blame.
The DAB has said it will seek redress for Alex Ho and find out what happened from the Dongguan public security authorities. That would be a good turn. However, expedition is essential for saving a life as for fighting a fire. The DAB must first ask the Dongguan authorities what was injected into Alex Ho and what drugs were prescribed him when he was in detention so that his doctors in Hong Kong can cure him. It should then ascertain the facts about health care in the detention centre and inform the national health care authorities of them so as to protect inmates' fundamental human rights and prevent others from being victimised.
The mainland yesterday threatened to take further unspecified measures against Democrat Alex Ho Wai-to, freed last month from six months' detention in Guangdong for hiring a prostitute.
It said it wanted to "clear the air", accusing the disgraced politician of distorting the truth about his detention.
The Dongguan Public Security Bureau said it had tried its best to protect Mr Ho's privacy after he was detained last August after being found with a prostitute in a hotel in Humen, Dongguan .
But Mr Ho's "irresponsible" statements made during a Hong Kong press conference last week had caused social tension and distrust, the mainland statement said.
Describing him as having a habit of hiring prostitutes, the bureau said: "We seriously demand Ho stop deceiving the public and clarify his remarks as soon as possible. Otherwise, the public security authorities have no choice but to take further measures to clear the air."
Without naming the Democratic Party, the bureau said the "relevant organisation" in Hong Kong should stop forcing Mr Ho to lie. Mr Ho has resigned from the party but remains a Kwun Tong district councillor. The party said yesterday he was now in Taiwan and he would not comment any further.
Mr Ho last week insisted he had not hired a prostitute and accused the authorities of forcing him to sign confession papers.
But he declined to give details of the night he was arrested in the hotel with a woman whom he described as a karaoke disc jockey. He said she had known him for months.
He complained his liver problems had worsened while he was detained because the authorities refused to allow him to take medicine and that he had also contracted the skin disease psoriasis.
In its response yesterday, the bureau said there was no question of Mr Ho being forced or lured into making confessions.
"During the press conference, Mr Ho had denied hiring prostitutes.
"His difficulties [to confess] are understandable," it said. "We are willing to believe that he is under external pressure to give an account. We are also willing to give him another chance to right his wrong. We have tried our best to protect his privacy."
The bureau threatened to take further measures if no clarification was made.
The bureau said Mr Ho had been given special treatment regarding his meals, living conditions and medication, including six body checks and other special medical examinations.
The detention centre also arranged psychological treatment for Mr Ho, knowing he would face huge mental pressure when he was released.
Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat said last night that Mr Ho had called the press conference and the party had not applied any pressure on him.
Mr Ho could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A war of words broke out between veteran politician Allen Lee Peng-fei and the Democratic Party yesterday after Mr Lee revealed he had intervened to help gain the early release of Democrat Alex Ho Wai-to from detention on the mainland.
Mr Lee, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, accused Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat of breaking a pledge to keep quiet about the matter in return for his help.
Lee Wing-tat denied promising not to call a press conference and said Allen Lee was only one of three people approached for help - and was not the most "reliable".
The row broke out after district councillor Mr Ho was released on January 28, a fortnight early, from six months' detention in Dongguan , imposed for allegedly hiring a prostitute. He has offered to resign from the party, but the party has yet to officially accept.
At an emotional press conference after his return to Hong Kong, Mr Ho denied all charges against him and accused the mainland authorities of inhumane treatment.
Allen Lee yesterday labelled Mr Ho "a villain" and said Lee Wing-tat broke a vow to keep the incident low-key in exchange for his help. He said he was contacted by Lee Wing-tat last month to act as a middleman between the Democrats and Beijing.
"The mainland agreed to Lee Wing-tat's demand and released Ho before the [Lunar] New Year. How can he smear the central government like this? How can [the party] be so anti-communist?"
Lee Wing-tat said the NPC deputy was not the only middleman the party had approached.
"I contacted three people, and the one who turned out to be most reliable was not Allen Lee. Such was a way to test who was a solid contact," he said. "I did not promise Allen Lee anything whatsoever, and only said I would take care of the incident in an appropriate way. Despite having a few decades' experience in politics, he could not keep private discussions secret. I won't dare talk to him again in future."
A senior party source suggested Allen Lee was trying to please Beijing by attacking the Democrats.
Democratic Party legislator Fred Li Wah-ming was present at Mr Ho's press conference on February 3.
The party called a press conference afterwards but withdrew accusations made last year about rough treatment of Mr Ho.
Democratic Party chief Lee Wing-tat hit back at National People's Congress local deputy Allen Lee Monday after democrats came under fire for being "ungrateful'' in the wake of Alex Ho's early release from a mainland jail.
Lee had earlier accused the democrats of breaking promises by facilitating Ho's press conference after the disgraced district councillor was granted an early release from the Dongguan detention center following sex allegations.
Lee Wing-tat, responding to Allen Lee's attack in a Chinese-language newspaper, said he had sought help from three people who have close contacts with Beijing, including Allen Lee. But he insisted he had not promised that the democrats would not hold a press conference to reveal details of Ho's arrest and detention.
Allen Lee said he had helped arranged for Ho's early release following a promise by the Democratic Party chief that Ho and his family would keep a low profile. Instead, on his return to the SAR, Ho attacked the mainland authorities for his imprisonment on what he said were false charges and for the sort of treatment he had received in jail. Ho was arrested in a Dongguan hotel on August 13 and sentenced without trial to six months of "re-education through labor'' for allegedly soliciting the services of a prostitute. Ho, whose jail term was originally due to end last Sunday, was released on January 28.
The Legco election running-mate of legislator Fred Li attended a press conference six days after he was freed and accused officials at the detention center of mistreating him. He showed off his blister-covered body, claiming it was due to psoriasis infection at the unhygienic facility.
Ho also complained about being constantly watched by inmates, forced to write letters of apology and appreciation, and being barred from taking liver medicine brought to him by his wife.
Following Ho's press conference, former Liberal Party chairman Allen Lee accused the democrats of failing to keep their promise. He revealed that he was asked to intervene to help secure Ho's early release to enable him to return home to celebrate the Lunar New Year with his family. "I thought it was a reasonable request and I decided to help,'' Lee said Monday. "But after Ho was released, Lee Wing-tat refused to halt the press conference, telling me that they must [proceed with it].
"[Lee Wing-tat] owes me an apology,'' Lee said.
"Lee Wing-tat told me that Mrs Ho very much wanted her husband back before the Lunar New Year, on or before February 8, the new year's eve,'' Allen Lee said. "But what Ho and the democrats did after Ho's return was totally different from what they had promised. That angered me most.
"If Ho wanted a press conference, let him have it, but the democrats should distance themselves from Ho especially when they did not know the truth,'' Lee said.
"For supporting Ho, the party will pay a dear price. Lee [Wing-tat] and his party members don't have much future,'' Lee said.
In the statement issued last night, Lee Wing-tat said the other two people who had helped in the matter told him they sought help through the central government and other channels.
"I am grateful for the three persons' help,'' Lee said.
"I had never made any promise to the trio. Neither had I promised that the party or Ho would not hold a press conference on Ho's return.''
The Democratic Party last night made a surprise decision to ask disgraced district councillor Alex Ho Wai-to to remain a member.
Earlier this month Mr Ho offered to resign from the party after being detained in Dongguan , Guangdong, for hiring a prostitute.
Speaking after a two-hour party meeting, vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan announced that the central committee had unanimously agreed to ask Mr Ho to remain a member because of his previous contributions to the party.
Stressing that it had not come to a conclusion on whether Mr Ho had committed any offences on the mainland, the party leadership said he should remain a member because he had not been given an open trial.
Asked whether asking Mr Ho to remain would affect the party's image, central standing committee member Fung Wai-kwong said the leadership had not considered the issue.
"Even if he has done it, he has already been detained for 168 days and has fulfilled the terms of detention. The party cannot take it upon itself to give any judgments," he said.
Mr Fung also said the party had not considered whether the action would have an impact on its attempts to improve communications with the mainland. Mr Ho will have two months to consider whether to accept the party's offer. A party source suggested the move was only a gesture to appease internal dissent and block political opponents' attempts to attack the Democrats.
Mr Ho, who was detained in Dongguan for almost six months, but who says he is innocent, has accused the mainland of inhumane treatment.
The party had earlier sought to limit the damage by withdrawing claims mainland police had used force to arrest Mr Ho, who was found half-naked with a woman in a hotel room in August last year.
Ma Ngok, a political analyst at the University of Science and Technology, said it would be a wise move to drop Mr Ho. The attempt to ask him to stay was just a show.
The NGO Hong Kong Research Association conducted a public opinion poll of 546 citizens on February 2 and found:
- 61% think Alex Ho should resign as district councilor, compared to 17% who don't think so.
- 48% think worse about district councilors now compared to 32% who think the same.
- 45% think worse about the Democratic Party, 39% who think the same and 6% think better