Former HK editor says attacker tried to kill him

LONG RECOVERY::Kevin Lau, the former editor of ‘Ming Pao,’ said damage to the sciatic nerves in his legs could leave him wheelchair-bound for at least two years

The Guardian, BEIJING

Thu, Mar 13, 2014 - Page 6

The former Hong Kong newspaper editor who suffered a gruesome knife attack last month said it was likely that the perpetrator meant to take his life, adding that his recovery could take years.

Kevin Lau (劉進圖), 49, was attacked in broad daylight on Feb. 27, days after he was removed from his post as editor-in-chief of local newspaper Ming Pao. Hundreds of people protested against his removal, calling it a blow to the region’s press freedom amid increasing economic and political pressure from Beijing.

Lau was leaving his car on a leafy waterfront street when a man in a helmet approached him, hacked at his back and legs six times with a meat cleaver and then sped away on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice. No motive has been established for the attack. Police are searching for two suspects.

Ming Pao published Lau’s first comments since the incident in two articles, one on Monday and the other on Tuesday. Both painted a grim picture of his condition.

Lau, who is still in hospital, said that he was given 4,000cm3 of blood in a transfusion following the attack. Because of his small physique, he said, it amounted to “all of the blood in my body.”

Police have called the attack a “classic triad hit,” and suggested that it was intended to intimidate, not to kill.

Lau said that he doubted the assertion.

“Plunging a knife into someone’s back can do some serious damage,” Lau said.

“Just a millimeter in variation could have had a very different outcome,” he said.

He added that the blade did not damage his lungs and spleen only because it was “stopped by my pelvic bone.”

Lau said he did not feel much pain during the attack, which he reported himself. Both of his legs went numb and his back ached, but he remained clear-headed even as he was being loaded into the ambulance.

Lau said it was likely his upper body would heal quickly because there was no damage to his internal organs, but damage to the sciatic nerves in his legs could leave him wheelchair-bound for some time.

While doctors have reconnected the nerves, they will only regrow by 1mm each day and must grow to 700mm before he is fully mobile. Recovery could take more than two years.

“Broken wires can work once rejoined, but nerves have to regrow,” Lau said.

“The whole recovery process will be very long. It cannot be hurried,” he said.