Police searched for three or four men yesterday who beat up a pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker with bats and batons while he was eating at a crowded McDonald's restaurant after a protest march.
Albert Ho (何俊仁) was treated in a hospital after the Sunday attack, and physicians were awaiting the results of tests to determine whether he suffered brain damage, said Legislator Andrew Cheng (鄭家富).
Cheng said Ho still couldn't open his eyes fully but was in good spirits.
A Hospital Authority spokeswoman speaking on customary anonymity said he was in stable condition.
Police Chief Inspector Alice Lee said there might be another assailant in addition to the three reported earlier and that the attackers were in their 20s to 30s.
Legislator Lee Wing-tat (李永達) said the attack may be linked to Ho's work as a lawyer. He said Ho took on cases that other lawyers dropped because of threats or physical attacks.
Lee, chairman of Ho's Democratic Party, was also quoted in the Ming Pao newspaper saying that Ho frequently works on lawsuits filed against triad gangsters.
"There were four men altogether. One stood in the entrance, as a guard ... and three other men attacked him," Lee said. "They were very professional and did it in a clean manner. They wore gloves to hold the baseball bats and they wore caps that were pulled down low so you couldn't see their faces."
Ho and his office staff had in the past been the victims of harassment by thugs, Lee said, but not violence.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang (
Tsang said the men didn't understand Hong Kong's political culture and that police would eventually track them down.
Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee (
About 100 people were in the restaurant, but the men weren't immediately identified because they wore caps that helped cover their faces.
Pictures of Ho's battered body were printed on the front pages of most of Hong Kong's biggest newspapers yesterday. He was shown sitting on the restaurant floor with his back leaning against a partition. The front of his green polo shirt was stained red, and his eyes were swollen and his face was bloody.
The attack shocked Hong Kong because it is a relatively peaceful society with little violent crime.
But in 1998, former radio talk show host Albert Cheng (鄭經翰), now a legislator, was attacked by two assailants with meat cleavers. He suffered deep cuts in his legs, arm and back.
Other pro-democracy lawmakers have recently complained about receiving threatening phone calls.