Pro-Beijing Hong Kong Lawmaker Injured in 'Knife' Incident on Campaign Trail


2019-11-06
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junius-ho-2019 In this Aug. 12, 2019, photo, pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho attends a demonstration of an anti-riot vehicle equipped with water cannon at the Police Tactical Unit Headquarters in Hong Kong.
AP

A pro-Beijing lawmaker was taken to a hospital in Hong Kong on Wednesday after a man drew what appeared to be a knife and lunged towards him.

Video footage of the interaction showed a man approaching Junius Ho, who was out campaigning ahead of district elections at the end of this month. The man offered Ho some flowers, before whipping the object out of his bag and thrusting it towards him.

Ho suffered a 2 centimeter wound in the incident, but was also shown restraining the man, who lay on the floor yelling insults and accusing Ho of orchestrating the July 21 attacks on train passengers and others at the hands of white-clad thugs in Yuen Long district.

"Junius Ho, you bandit! You scum! You attacked Yuen Long on July 21!" the man yelled as he was pinned to the ground by Ho and two assistants.

Ho told reporters after receiving medical treatment that the knife had been blocked by his rib cage and that he was left with a minor 2-centimeter-(0.79-inch)-deep wound.

"I hope that everyone can support public order as soon as possible in the fight against violence in Hong Kong, and let us get on and live our lives in peace," Ho said.

"This election has been plagued by violent incidents, and I hope that they don't occur again," he added. "We have to get back to business as usual."

The man who attacked Ho was arrested, and Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam condemned what she called escalating violence across society as anti-government protests in the city entered their fifth month.

However, social media posts were skeptical, saying the attack could have been staged as a way of enabling the government to call off the polls altogether.

The July 21 attacks in Yuen Long marked a shift in public mood, as police were called, yet did nothing to prevent the violence for more than 30 minutes. Ho was seen shaking hands with some of the attackers on the same night.

Ho admitted thanking the men for "defending their home," but has denied involvement in the attacks. His office has been vandalized several times since, and his parents' graves desecrated.

Ho's wounding came after a man with a knife attacked two people in Tai Koo on Sunday, before biting off the ear of district councilor Andrew Chiu.

Jimmy Sham, head of pro-democracy march organizers the Civil Human Rights Front, suffered head injuries after being attacked by men wielding hammers last month.

Police violence

China on Wednesday doubled down despite growing calls for an independent inquiry into police violence, saying the ruling Chinese Communist Party would back bolder action to quell the anti-government protests that have gripped the city after Lam introduced plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

Vice premier Han Zheng said Lam's administration should take a more "proactive" approach to ending violence in the city, which was promised a "high degree of autonomy" under the terms of the 1997 handover to Chinese rule.

"We firmly support the [Hong Kong] government to adopt more proactive and more effective measures to solve the social problems," Han told a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in the Chinese capital.

Han said the violence had crossed both moral and legal red lines.

Lam formally withdrew the hated amendments to the city's extradition laws last month, fulfilling the first of the protest movement's five demands.

But protesters say they will continue to protest until there has also been an amnesty for thousands of people arrested during the movement, the withdrawal of the official term 'rioting' to describe some gatherings, an independent inquiry into police violence against protesters, and fully democratic elections to the Legislative Council and for the post of chief executive.

Lam on Tuesday ruled out an amnesty for arrested protesters.

In recent weeks, protesters have also begun calling for the current Hong Kong police force to be disbanded, particularly after widespread reports of the sexual abuse and torture of detainees at the hands of police.

Police have fired thousands of rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and arrested more than 2,300 people since June, many of them minors.

U.K. reaction

U.K. lawmakers this week hit out at China for the "dangerous erosion" of the legal and political firewall between Hong Kong and mainland China, known as "one country, two systems."

"The situation has markedly deteriorated," the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee said in a report published as parliament was dissolved ahead of a Dec. 12 general election.

"We are ... deeply concerned by the events in Hong Kong over the last six months, which have demonstrated that Hong Kong’s autonomy is at risk, especially in the area of the rule of law, which underpins its economy," the report said.

The Hong Kong government said it "vehemently rejects" the report's findings.

It blamed protesters for "resorting to escalating violence," saying their right of peaceful assembly continues.

But Hong Kong political commentator Sang Pu said there are genuine concerns with law enforcement in the city, which has prosecuted protesters on vaguely worded public order charges in huge batches in recent months.

"There are many cases in which the frontline judiciary, the prosecutors, aren't doing a good job," Sang said. "Police violence continues unabated, and prosecutions are indiscriminate."

"Once these cases get to court, how can they do their jobs properly? And even if they could, it's a huge waste of time, energy and resources," he said.

He said possible "proactive" measures referred to by Han could include cutting off internet access, curfews and other measures.

Last month, Lam's administration enacted a ban on the wearing of masks in public under colonial-era emergency legislation, which empowers the executive to implement any measures it sees fit, including censorship of news and publications.

Reported by Lu Xi and Gao Feng for RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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