Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 5 News List

HK lawmaker's home break-in tied to poll smear effort


The home of outspoken Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Emily Lau (劉慧卿) has been burgled and personal files searched, police said yesterday, in an incident the lawmaker said was linked to a smear campaign ahead of key polls.

Although no valuables were stolen, Lau said a window had been forced open and personal documents rummaged through.

"We've noticed that certain things have been moved around ... if they are not after [valuables], what are they after?" Lau said.

She feared intruders were searching for incriminating information to tarnish her name, as has happened to at least four fellow pro-democracy candidates in the past two weeks.

"It's a sensitive time. It's election time. Many people try to seek black materials to smear [the democrats]," she said.

Lau, whose offices and suburban New Territories home have been the target of several vandal and arson attacks, is campaigning for next month's polls on a platform that opposes Beijing's suppression of universal suffrage.

At least four democratic hopefuls' names have been dragged through the mud recently: one was jailed in China for allegedly hiring a prostitute and three others have been accused of financial irregularities.

China is accused of orchestrating the scandals to boost the chances of parties it favors.

Lau declined to be drawn on who was responsible.

"This is very disturbing. I feel unsafe in my home. How would that reflect on the Hong Kong authority?" she asked.

The police said they were investigating. Pro-democracy law-makers are expected to make big gains in elections next month.

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