Hong Kong singer and activist arrested over ‘corrupt conduct’
A prominent Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist has been arrested by the city’s anti-corruption watchdog over accusations he broke the law by singing at a political rally three years ago.
The arrest of Anthony Wong on Monday is the latest official move against those who had been pushing for greater democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Hong Kong’s independent commission against corruption said Wong performed two songs at the 2018 rally and urged attendees to vote for the pro-democracy candidate Au Nok-hin in a byelection.
The watchdog also charged Au, who won the election, in part for publicising the rally on social media and saying that Wong would be performing.
The watchdog said in a statement that providing others with refreshments and entertainment at an election event was “a corrupt conduct and a serious offence” and against the elections ordinance.
Local media reported Wong was released on bail. Au has been in jail since March after being one of the 47 pro-democracy activists arrested for alleged subversion over an unofficial primary election they held last year. The unofficial polls, which have historically been held by both sides of the political divide, were attended by more than 600,000 people and were widely seen as an unofficial statement on the government.
The arrests come as authorities crack down on dissent in Hong Kong following the 2019 anti-government protests sparked by concerns that the former British colony was losing the freedoms it was promised when it was handed over to Chinese control in 1997. Opposition figures, media, legal groups, unions and activists have been targeted.
China last year imposed a sweeping national security law that has since been used to arrest more than 100 pro-democracy figures. Changes have also been made to Hong Kong’s election laws to reduce the number of directly elected legislators and give a largely pro-Beijing committee the leeway to nominate legislators.
The crackdown has drawn criticism from many governments around the world.
Wong rose to fame in the 1980s as the vocalist for pop duo Tat Ming Pair and later embarked on a solo career.
In 1989 Tat Ming Pair played at a benefit concert after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and travelled with the 1990 North American Concert for Democracy in China tour. Wong also co-founded the LGBTQ+ rights group BigLove Alliance.
He became an outspoken supporter of the city’s democracy movement, backing the 2019 protests as well as the “umbrella revolution” protests that hit the city in 2014. His support for the 2014 protests led to a ban on performing in mainland China and his music was removed from streaming sites.
I was a follower of his music when I was in High School (about a quarter century ago), but drifted away after I made contact with Jazz music in my early 20's.
The spotlight here is, does performance in a rally make it corruption? Does any law in the West have such a provision?