A VANDAL poured tubs of red paint over the statues of a Hongkong Bank pioneer and a Chinese lion before disappearing in the heart of Central yesterday afternoon.
His first target was Statue Square, where witnesses said the man, in his 20s, about 152 centimetres tall and carrying two buckets of red paint, strode up to the statue of former Hongkong and Shanghai Bank chief Sir Thomas Jackson at 2 pm.
'Without saying anything, he poured one of the buckets on the statue,' said a maid who was lunching with friends.
'He was so short the paint only reached the feet of the statue.' Sir Thomas Jackson managed the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in the late 19th century and his face was once imprinted on the $1,000 bill.
Witnesses said the man grabbed his buckets and walked across Des Voeux Road to the old Bank of China building, where a pair of stone lions guard the doorway.
He emptied his remaining bucket over one lion, then left, leaving the statue and its foundation dripping vermillion.
Building staff swiftly covered the red-faced lion.
Police were last night questioning witnesses.
It was the third paint attack on the lions in recent years. On Chinese National Day, October 1 1990, black paint was poured on one of the lions.
In 1989, both lions were doused with red paint on September 29, a regular date for protests against National Day celebrations after the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The statue of Queen Victoria in Victoria Park has been repaired after mainland artist Pun Sing-lui, 26, attacked its nose with a hammer and poured red paint over it and himself in September.
Central, Hong Kong
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation