Mastermind behind attack on Kevin Lau Chun-to must be found

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 1:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 8:24am

Eighteen months after the knife attack on veteran former newspaper chief Kevin Lau Chun-to, two assailants were each sentenced to 19 years by the High Court last week. But with the motive of the attack remaining unknown and the mastermind still on the loose, justice has yet to be fully served. The police should continue to investigate further.

This is the first time in years that a brutal assault on a journalist has led to arrests and convictions. The previous cases have not made much progress. In Lau's case, a total of 11 people were arrested weeks after the attack in Sai Wan Ho in February last year. But the remaining nine have not been charged. One of the two convicted told the court that someone whom he would not name had offered HK$100,000 each to him and his accomplice to "teach Lau a lesson". The two maintained they were forced to confess under threats and torture by mainland police.

It is disappointing that the one ultimately responsible for the attack has yet to be identified. The police would only say the investigation was still ongoing, but stopped short of giving further details. The response does not instil confidence that the case can soon be solved. Lau believed that the attack was related to his journalism. He has helped the police investigation by furnishing records of the sensitive reports published during his editorship of Ming Pao. The police should step up the investigation to track down the mastermind.

Freedom of the press is one of the cornerstones of Hong Kong's success. Journalists cannot do their work properly if they have to worry about their personal safety. The outpouring of anger, as reflected in a rally attended by media professionals and citizens last year, shows the attack on Lau was as much an affront to the city's core value as a collective injury.

The court ruling has upheld justice and eased the chilling effect on the profession. But confidence in press freedom cannot be restored unless the masterminds in the Lau attack and other cases are brought to justice.