The attack yesterday on lawmaker and veteran unionist Lee Cheuk-yan and his aide is to be condemned. It is an affront to our city's relatively peaceful political scene. Mr Lee was assaulted in Tuen Mun while collecting signatures for a campaign. The alleged assailant reportedly punched him in the face and tried to shove a banana in his mouth. His staff subdued the 58-year-old and turned him over to police. Fortunately, Mr Lee appears to have suffered only slight injury and did not require serious medical treatment. But it was a very unpleasant and no doubt frightening experience. It is not clear what motivated the attack. It may well have been an isolated incident unrelated to Mr Lee's political activities. But since he is a prominent unionist who is associated with the pan-democratic camp, the attack is understandably being seen as having political significance. Government officials have been swift to condemn it - and that is to their credit. This sort of conduct is a threat to our way of life and cannot be tolerated. People have every right to express their views. However, they also have a responsibility to allow other people to express theirs. Compared to many places, our city's political culture has been relatively free of violence and intimidation. Our political debates and elections become heated at times, but confrontations resulting in injury have been rare. It is fortunate that we have a relatively civil community, even when we are mired in political controversy. We must maintain our civility as we evolve towards full democracy. Understandably, in times of stress, people become tense and less tolerant. We are heading towards an economic downturn. Some people may be tempted to express their views or act in ways that are less than civil. But we must preserve our virtues, among which are peace and tolerance.