Election candidate freed after sentence overturned

The High Court on Tuesday overturned the six-month sentence meted out to a defeated candidate in the 2019 District Council elections, who was convicted of breaching the Elections Ordinance by failing to submit his election return on time.

Under the law, all election candidates are required to submit an election return recording the expenses and donations they received by a certain deadline.

But Chan Yu-ming, a former Civic Party member, failed to do so and was in July sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by magistrate Joseph To.

Chan subsequently lodged an appeal and in her ruling, Justice Judianna Barnes noted that the defendant was busy dealing with a divorce and child custody matters at the time, and had not deliberately withheld the information from the authorities.

Barnes concluded that the magistrate’s decision was too harsh.

The judge noted that in a previous case, an election candidate who deliberately refused to submit an election return had only been fined.

Barnes ordered the immediate release of Chan, saying he had already been held in custody for 54 days – long enough a punishment to have a deterrent effect.