Hong Kong stu­dent leader Wong in ‘chill­ing’ as­sault

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Hong Kong stu­dent leader Joshua Wong, the teenage face of the city’s pro-democ­racy protests, was as­saulted in the street with his girl­friend in an at­tack he said Mon­day sent a “chill to my heart.”

The mo­ti­va­tion for the as­sault is not known but pre­vi­ous at­tacks against prom­i­nent media fig­ures have raised con­cerns that ten­sions from Hong Kong’s deep po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions could turn vi­o­lent.

Wong, 18, was leav­ing a movie theater near Mong Kok — the scene of some of the most bit­ter clashes in last year’s street ral­lies — with his girl­friend late Sun­day when the as­sault oc­curred.

The male at­tacker punched Wong in the face and when he and his girl­friend gave chase both were as­saulted, he said on his Face­book page.

“Be­ing at­tacked on the way home af­ter go­ing on a date, and (the as­sailant) even at­tack­ing my girl­friend, it’s shame­ful,” he said.

Po­lice said Mon­day they had yet to make an ar­rest, con­firm­ing that Wong had “sud­denly been at­tacked” by a sus­pect in his 20s and had sus­tained in­juries to his eyes and nose.

“The sus­pect tried to flee but the two vic­tims fol­lowed, and when the fe­male tried to take pic­tures of the sus­pect he then at­tacked the male and fe­male vic­tims,” a po­lice spokes­woman said.

Last year’s mass protests were sparked af­ter Bei­jing in­sisted that can­di­dates for Hong Kong’s next leader must be vet­ted by a loy­al­ist com­mit­tee, a de­ci­sion cam­paign­ers in­clud­ing Wong de­rided as “fake democ­racy.”

The elec­toral pro­pos­als were voted down ear­lier this month af­ter a pro­tracted de­bate that di­vided the city.

“(The as­sault) im­plies ac­tivists are fac­ing the dan­ger of at­tacks in their daily lives, not only dur­ing protests. This is what sends a chill to my heart,” Wong wrote in an emo­tional Face­book post.

“It’s not only a prob­lem with uni­ver­sal suf­frage — it’s about the lim­ited free­dom and le­gal sys­tem slowly be­ing oblit­er­ated by these vi­o­lent acts.

“The road ahead is long and tough, but we should re­tain our goal and keep walk­ing on this bumpy road of democ­racy.”

Po­lar­ized City

Other lead­ing anti- es­tab­lish­ment fig­ures tar­geted in the past in­clude media ty­coon Jimmy Lai, whose of­fice and home were fire­bombed in Jan­uary.

Kevin Lau, for­mer editor of the lib­eral Ming Pao news­pa­per, was at­tacked by knife-wield­ing as­sailants in Fe­bru­ary last year.

Sep­a­rately, scuf­fles broke out be­tween what po­lice de­scribed as ri­val protest groups in Mong Kok Sun­day night. Five peo­ple were ar­rested af­ter po­lice used pep­per spray to sep­a­rate the groups, the South China Morn­ing Post re­ported.

The news­pa­per said the con­flict broke out be­tween a pro-Bei­jing group and “anti-main­land de­mon­stra­tors.”

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Sonny Lo said that Hong Kong was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly po­lar­ized with small groups be­com­ing “highly politi­cized by an in­creas­ingly rad­i­cal­ized en­vi­ron­ment.”

“We have now en­tered the postOc­cupy move­ment stage in which vi­o­lent con­fronta­tions be­tween the two camps, namely the prodemoc­racy and the pro-Bei­jing groups, ap­pear to be in­evitable,” he said, re­fer­ring to the mass street protests known as the Oc­cupy or Um­brella Move­ment.

The in­ci­dents come days be­fore a ma­jor pro-democ­racy march on Wed­nes­day, when thou­sands are ex­pected to take to the street.

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