HONG KONG — A Democratic Party candidate was arrested in Dongguan, China, last August while on a business trip before the Hong Kong legislative election on charges of soliciting a prostitute. He was sentenced without trial to six months in detention. Alex Ho was released on Jan. 28 after serving 5-1/2 months in a detention center. He has since been in a hospital in Kowloon, Hong Kong for treatments.
Ho held a press conference at Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital to make his first public statement on Feb. 3. He denied soliciting a prostitute and stated he was wrongfully accused. Ho said that after his arrest, he was denied the right to make telephone calls and denied the right to an attorney. Without the presence of an attorney, Ho was threatened to sign a confession that he had hired the prostitute. While in the detention center, he was further threatened to write letters of confession and praises every other day.
Ho emphasized that he would not resign from his duties as a legislator, but would leave the Democratic Party. Ho's wife stood by his side and expressed that she fully believed in him.
During the Hong Kong legislative election last September, Human Rights Watch, a human rights organization based in the United States, released a report on Sept. 9 called "A Question of Patriotism: Human Rights and Democratization in Hong Kong." The report criticized the Chinese government for threatening to halt the broadcasts of Albert Cheng, Wong Yuk-man, and Allen Lee Pengfei, known for their on-air rants criticizing the Chinese government. It also reported that the offices of legislative council representatives Leung Yiuchung and Emily Lau were vandalized and smeared with excrement. These violent threats, including Ho's arrest, strictly interfered with the Hong Kong government before the legislative election and inflicted a blow to the Democratic Party's support.
About 20 voters representing the Shuntin district in Kowloon and women's organizations, brought flowers and get well cards to show their support for Ho.
His wife stayed seated next to him during the hourlong press conference and held his hand.
Ho described the 168 days in the Dongguan detention center as the darkest days of his life, and the most unbearable. Before his detention, he was considered healthy, but after his release, his health condition has become very poor. His doctor has confirmed that he's suffering from cirrhosis and that his liver is functioning at only 20 percent, which will require long-term medication. Furthermore, he has developed a severe form of psoriasis that covers his whole body. Doctors have indicated that he may never be cured of the disease.