Police believe Apple Daily arsonists same people as attackers of Jimmy Lai’s home
After Next Media founder and chairman Jimmy Lai’s house was attacked on June 19 (the front gate was rammed with a car and two axes left behind), the attackers have stepped up their game. During the early morning of June 26, a truck carrying Next Media’s “Apple Daily” was unloading at Hung Hom when two knife-wielding assailants chased away the workers and set fire to the truck and its cargo.The second attack on Next Media in a week has left police highly concerned, and they have launched a joint investigation into the twin attacks, conducted by the Kowloon City District Crime Squad.
Around 2pm on June 26, 10 members of the Serious Crime Unit visited the scene of the crime at Cheong Tung Rd South for investigation, collecting footage from nearby surveillance cameras and recreating the attackers’ escape route. According to reports, the police have ordered front-line officers in all districts to pay special attention to Apple Daily’s distribution points to prevent a repeat of the attack.
According to reports, police believe that the arson attack is related to the earlier attack on Jimmy Lai. The hooligans’ brazen public challenge to the law [Apple Daily is not known for its neutrality, especially in its on-line, geoIP-restricted version] and the sensitivity of the case have left the police highly concerned. The police have merged the new arson case with that of the previous attack, which is currently under investigation by the Kowloon City District Crime Squad’s second team, while mobilizing its Criminal Intelligence Bureau.
Overt challenge to press freedom
Lai’s home on Kadoorie Ave in Ho Man Tin did not seem to have any increased security yesterday. Lai himself has acted as if nothing had happened, and did not answer any reporters’ questions when spotted with his chauffeur last morning on his way to Central. Legislative Council James To, however, called the twin attacks an overt challenge to press freedom and urged senior police to investigate the case vigorously. “This time the attack was not directed at any person but at the newspaper itself, conveying a clear message against Apple Daily. Hong Kong must not tolerate such lawless acts.”
The attack on the news truck occurred during the dawn hours of yesterday morning [June 26]. Employees of Apple Daily publisher CLT were offloading a truckload of the tabloid for distribution at Cheong Tung Rd South (under the Princess Margaret Road flyover) when two knife-wielding men suddenly appeared. One of the men threatened the workers with a watermelon knife and said, “Scram or I’ll carve you up!” The workers fled and called the police. When they returned to the scene of the crime, the truck had been set on fire along with its cargo. The assailants fled in a waiting car.
The attack on Jimmy Lai’s house occurred in the early hours of June 19 (last Wednesday). The front gate of Lai’s mansion was rammed by a car, with a pair of axes left behind as a threat.
The Standard reported that burned newspapers were also involved in the earlier June 19 attack:
Police found the car believed to have been used in the attack less than half an hour later at the junction of Cheung Sha Wan and Kwai Chung. Burned newspapers and the sheath of a knife were found inside.
Its owner, a 53-year-old man, told officers the car was stolen on Monday night after he parked it in Tsuen Wan.
[…]Lai has been attacked before – in 1993 when an incendiary device was tossed into his home on Tai Po Road and in 1995 when he was beaten on the head by robbers who made off with cash and valuables worth HK$2 million.
June 19 happens to be the date that Next Magazine ran this highly unflattering cover story of Sum Chan, the leader of Caring Hong Kong Power (in reality a bunch of middle-aged pro-China hooligans).
Here’s the deal with Next Media, owner of Apple Daily, Sharp Daily, and Next Magazine. Personally, I think that the company is extremely trashy, drawing in viewers primarily with boobs, violence, and celebrity gossip (including, of course, rumours about boob jobs). The company has been sued for indecency and libel many times, often losing. But the company does have one saving grace: it is one of the few pro-democracy, anti-China newspapers in Hong Kong.
Thus, no matter what one thinks of Next Media and Apple Daily as a credible news source (it is not), one cannot deny the seriousness of the twin attacks on the paper as a political attack against pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong. One can only hope that Apple Daily continues its defiance against the local government and its allies despite the threats.