24th February, 2016
New Territories East By-Election: Holden Chow Failed to Declare Conflict of Interests?
The raising star of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), Holden Chow Ho-ding, is one of the seven candidates standing in the New Territories East By-election (to be held on 28th Feb). Chow lists himself as a solicitor in all of his election materials since he became a District Council member representing the Islands District in 2012.
(NOTE: The Law Society of Hong Kong’s record shows that Chow is “Holding Current Practising Certificate – Solicitor Not in Private Practice in Hong Kong”)
Chow started working for New World Development as a legal counsel before being appointed to the Islands District Council in 2012. Although he declared his connection to New World Development upon joining the Islands District Council, such information was not disclosed to the public.
At that time, New World Development had been planning on developing Lantau Island, which has substantial profit potential. Chow’s appointment to the Islands District Council meant that Chow would have had insider information from the District Council throughout his term that he could have leaked to New World Development, his employer.
According to all council meeting minutes of Islands District Council, Chow had never declared his conflict of interests in all subsequent votes regarding interests of New World Development in Lantau Isaldn.
After this story broke, Chow apologiesd and updated his personal information in the Law Society’s database, but failed to explain why he did not declare his conflict of interest in the first place. New World Development also responded, at the time, that Chow does not handle any business of the company that is related to property development and Lantau Island projects.
After the case was exposed, Chow made a public apology and updated his employment record at the Law Society.
Chow’s political career advances quickly since the case was reported, and became the Vice Chairman of the DAB and won the Tung Chung South District Council election in 2015. Months after he took the seat, he announced to stand in the New Territories East By-election.
Other candidates standing in the NT East By-election include:
- Christine Fong Kwok-shan (independent, previously Liberal Party)
- Lau Chi-sing (nonpartisan)
- Albert Leung Sze-ho (independent)
- Edward Leung Tin-kei (Hong Kong Indigenous)
- Nelson Wong Sing-chi (Third Side, formerly Democratic Party)
- Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu (Civic Party)