A man in a helmet attacked Kevin Lau, former chief editor of the
Ming Pao daily, in broad daylight on a leafy harbourfront street,
slashing him in the back several times. The assailant rode off on a
motorcycle with an accomplice.
The attack took place days after 6,000 journalists marched to Hong
Kong's government headquarters to demand the city's leaders uphold
press freedom against what they see as intrusions from mainland
China in a politically sensitive year.
Doctors said Lau's injuries were severe and included a 16-cm
(6.5-inch) gash. He remains in a critical condition.
Police said they had so far no clues as to who might have carried
out the attack. No one had been detained.
An incident of such brutality is unusual in the former British
colony, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.
Such an attack, however, aimed at wounding rather than killing, was
widely interpreted as a warning to Hong Kong's vibrant media that
has remained a bastion of critical reporting on China, a far cry
from mainland China, where media are subject to heavy censorship and
The Hong Kong Journalists' Association called on authorities to
"pursue his attackers and those malignant forces behind them without
fear or favor. The attackers must be brought to justice as quickly
as possible to allay public fears."
Media outlets have been subject to attacks. The offices of a small
independent media outlet were recently ransacked and a car rammed
the front gate of the home of Jimmy Lai, publisher of Hong Kong's
anti-Beijing newspaper, the Apple Daily.
In the late 1990s, two prominent media figures, Albert Cheng and
Leung Tin-wai, were slashed by men with knives in cases that remain
BEIJING RESISTING PRESSURE FOR FULL DEMOCRACY
Hong Kong, a freewheeling capitalist hub, enjoys a high degree of
autonomy and freedom. But Beijing's Communist Party leaders have
resisted public pressure for full democracy, stoking tensions as the
city prepares for a direct vote for its leader in 2017.
[to top of second column]
Pro-democracy groups have threatened to barricade the city's
financial and business center this summer if Beijing does not allow
a poll with opposition activists.
Some insiders at Ming Pao said recent exposes on assets hidden
offshore by China's elite - in collaboration with the International
Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) - could have been a
factor for the attack.
Lau, a respected Hong Kong-born editor at Ming Pao with a
straight-talking style, was recently replaced by a Malaysian Chinese
journalist with suspected pro-Beijing leanings, who is expected to
take up his duties this week.
Lau's removal to a lesser role in the group sparked a revolt in the
Ming Pao newsroom by journalists who suggested the paper's editorial
independence might be undermined.
"This attack will damage perceptions of Hong Kong as a safe city and
its reputation for media freedoms," said Phyllis Tsang of the Ming
Pao Staff Concern Group.
Co-founded by martial arts novelist Louis Cha in the late 1950s,
Ming Pao is now owned by a low-key Malaysian media baron with
extensive Chinese business interests - Tiong Hiew King - through his
Media Chinese International.
Hong Kong's leader, Leung Chun-ying, said the city would not
tolerate this kind of "savage attack". Democracy activists denounce
Leung as a loyalist to Beijing's Communist leadership.
The U.S. Consulate said in a statement it was "deeply concerned" by
(Additional reporting by Greg Torode; Editing by Ron Popeski)
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