Pro-Beijing Politician Stabbed in Hong Kong Is Fifth Candidate Attacked in Run up to Elections

One of Hong Kong's most prominent pro-Beijing lawmakers has been stabbed while campaigning for upcoming local elections.

Junius Ho was attacked on Wednesday in his constituency at around 8:45 a.m. according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

A video of the incident shows a man handing the lawmaker flowers and thanking him for his hard work, before reaching into his bag, withdrawing a knife and stabbing Ho while shouting, "Junius Ho, you scum!"

The attacker was quickly overpowered and subdued by bystanders, assisted by Ho. The lawmaker was taken to hospital with a stab wound to the chest. Ho later said his ribcage blocked the blade, meaning he only suffered a small wound, the Associated Press reported.

The attacker—who was arrested by police—and one of Ho's aides were also injured and taken for treatment.

Ho has become one of the most reviled political figures in Hong Kong after months of anti-government protests. The 57-year-old is unapologetically pro-Beijing and has consistently maligned protesters.

Ho came under fire in July after being caught on video shaking hands with groups of pro-Beijing men that had attacked protesters and bystanders in the Hong Kong subway system with makeshift weapons.

The attack injured 45 people and marked a dark turn for the protest movement, which began with mass marches in June.

The attack on Ho adds to a worrying pattern of assaults on lawmakers and election candidates in Hong Kong. The city is gearing up for local elections in at the end of this month.

Democrat Andrew Chiu had a part of his ear bitten off on Sunday by a Mandarin-speaking man who tried to attack him with a knife. Four others were injured in the ensuing fracas, with the attacker beaten by the crowd before being arrested and taken for treatment.

Pro-Democracy Labour Party member Stanley Ho was attacked by several men in late September, who smashed the lawmaker's hands and inflicted head wounds with metal poles.

Two first-time candidates—Jocelyn Chau and Jannelle Leung—were also attacked last month, Chau while handing out campaign leaflets and Leung while walking in the street.

Local pro-democracy leader Jimmy Sham has also been assaulted, though he is not running for the local elections. Last month, he was ambushed in the street by men armed with hammers who beat him to the floor. Sham was left lying bloodied and dazed.

The election race has taken on added significance given the extended unrest. It will serve as a proxy election on Chief Executive Carrie Lam's government and Chinese interference, with pro-democracy groups hoping a surge of activist voting will hand them victory.

If pro-democracy parties can win a majority of the seats, they will gain another 117 spots on the 1,200-member body that elects Hong Kong's next chief executive. This would make it harder for Beijing to hand-pick the winner of the next chief executive election, currently scheduled for 2022.

Mass protests have continued in the run up to the vote. Police have adopted more aggressive tactics, and now regularly use water cannons, tear gas and "non-lethal" projectiles against crowds of activists. At least two protesters have also been shot with live ammunition. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 others have been arrested.

The movement began as a protest against an extradition bill that would have allowed the government to send fugitives to China for trial.

It has since evolved into a far wider campaign, calling for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, an independent investigation into police brutality, amnesty for all those arrested and retraction of the word "rioters" to describe demonstrators.

Lam's government has withdrawn the extradition bill that sparked the crisis, though activists have warned the move was too little too late. The government has refused to offer any further concessions.

Lam met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday in Shanghai. Xi voiced his support for Lam's administration, attempting to quash rumors that Beijing was considering ditching the chief executive before the local election to take the sting out of the anti-government backlash.

Junius Ho, Hong Kong, elections, stabbed, candidate
Hong Kong pro-Beijing government lawmaker Junius Ho is pictured in the Tuen Mun district of Hong Kong on July 23, 2019. PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images/Getty