An environmental activist recently elected to Hong Kong's legislature with a record number of votes is under police protection after receiving death threats targeting himself and his family, forcing them to leave their home.
Eddie Chu has reported receiving "escalating" death threats to police, saying he hasn't had anywhere safe to take his family since he won his seat in Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo).
"The government is extremely concerned about the Eddie Chu case, and takes [the threats] very seriously," a Hong Kong government spokesman said in a statement.
"The police are taking appropriate measures and arrangements to ensure the safety of Eddie Chu and his family, and police have begun a full investigation."
Hong Kong's government would not accept threats against anyone speaking out on matters of concern to the community, the spokesman said.
The statement came after Democratic Party chairman and fellow lawmaker-elect Andrew Wan slammed the police for failing to act on threats he received.
Wan had reported receiving threats including a letter containing a sharp blade, both before and after the election.
Hundreds of people staged a rally on Sunday outside police headquarters in Hong Kong's Wanchai district to show support Chu, who is currently under police protection, and who has spoken to the city's chief executive Leung Chun-ying over alleged corruption linked to a land deal in his home district.
'Imminent' threat feared
Chu has also requested permission to move himself and his family into offices in the LegCo building, for their own protection.
"I don't know what else to do, as there is a while to wait without police protection, and I need to protect my own and my family's safety," he said. "We need a safe place to stay."
Chu told journalists last week that the threats against him were "imminent", saying he had reported them to police and was considering hiring a private security firm to protect himself and his family.
The threats came as Chu garnered some 84,000 votes in his New Territories West electoral district, the most ever won by a single individual, following a lengthy campaign as a land activist targeting corruption and organized crime involvement in land transactions there.
"We consider the threats to be credible death threats against Mr Chu and his family," Chu's lawyer Michael Vidler told journalists at the time. "We'll report them to the police, seek their advice, and then we can come out and speak to you again."
"We can't say any more at the moment, because we don't want to prejudice the results of any police investigation," Vidler said. "We consider them to be very credible threats."
Local media reports suggest that the threats against Chu are linked to the land deal rather than his election campaign, government broadcaster RTHK reported.
Andrew Wan told RFA he had reported similar threats to the police four times, accusing them of treating his complaints with indifference.
New Territories land deal
He believed his threats were also linked to the New Territories land deal issue.
"It's very clear that this has to do with vested interests in the New Territories land [dispute]," Wan said. "The sums involved could run from billions into tens of billions."
"Hong Kong's political culture is becoming increasingly dangerous, and such incidents are becoming more frequent this year than they have been for many years," he said. "
Wan said he wouldn't back down, however.
"I have a duty to our citizens now, and I have handed over all of the information to police on each incident," he said. "But they never asked me for a statement, nor did they ask me for any details, until Eddie Chu mentioned that I had been threatened too."
"Only then did the police realize that this was a major incident."
The alleged threats against Chu and Wan came after Liberal Party candidate Ken Chow withdrew from the LegCo elections citing threats from "three people from Beijing."
Liberal Party chairwoman Miriam Lau, who represents Hong Kong at the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, has called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to investigate whether any Beijing officials tried to influence the outcome of the Sept. 4 election.
Reported by Lam Kwok-lap and Lee Lai for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.