A Hong Kong man has been sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to stabbing pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho at a street booth in Tuen Mun in 2019.

The High Court put 31-year-old Tung Pak-fai behind bars on Monday after he admitted to wounding politician Ho with intent in November 2019. The incident occurred during the months-long pro-democracy protests and unrest when the then-Tuen Mun district councillor was campaigning on the streets for re-election.

High Court
High Court. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

In jailing Tung, Madam Justice Esther Toh criticised his behaviour as “irrational,” saying it was “lucky” that Ho’s injury was not severe, local media reported. The attacker, who was unemployed, had left a two-centimetre wound in Ho’s chest, while the lawmaker’s assistant also suffered injuries on his left arm and left side of their ribcage.

According to local media, Toh said regardless of Tung’s motives – and whether he was politically-motivated – it could not be considered as an excuse for committing the offence. She added his behaviour would not be tolerated in a civilised society.

junius ho
Photo: Mina Chan.

Tung originally faced one count of attempted murder, but he denied the charge. He then pleaded guilty to the alternative charge of wounding with intent, and a separate count of wounding.

July 21 mob attacks

On the day of the attack, Tung had claimed he was a supporter of Ho and approached the politician for a photo, before pulling out a 20-centimetre-long knife from his bag and stabbing the lawmaker. Tung yelled after he was subdued: “The July 21 Yuen Long incident was your deed.”

junius ho legco
Junius Ho. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Tung was referring to the attacks inside and around the Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, 2019, when over 100 rod-wielding men beat black-clad protesters, commuters, journalists and ex-legislator Lam Cheuk-ting. Ho came under fire at the time after a video appeared to to show him praising a group of white-shirted men outside the metro station.

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The pro-Beijing lawmaker was among several candidates who were attacked in the months leading up to the 2019 District Council election.

The polls, which took place amid Hong Kong’s worst political turmoil in decades, saw a landslide victory for the pro-democracy camp. Ho lost his seat in the Lok Tsui constituency of the Tuen Mun District Council to democrat Cary Lo.

Other sentences

Monday’s sentencing stands in contrast to other jail terms meted out for similar cases in recent years.

Last October, the Eastern Magistrates’ Court handed a prison term of three months and six days to a 81-year-old man who injured activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung with a chisel in April 2020. Magistrate Cheang Kei-hong had hailed the elderly man as having a “passionate love for Hong Kong society,” saying he committed the offence out of difference in political stance.

In a separate case, a man was sentenced to six years and four months in May for stabbing a 19-year-old in the neck and stomach in October 2019. The victim was secondary school student at the time of the attack. He was giving out leaflets near a “Lennon Wall” pro-democracy message board in Tai Po.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.