At around 2:30 of October 22, 2014, thugs launched a series of attacks against Apple Daily delivery workers at several locations, sprinkling the newspaper with soy sauce. They damaged around 15,000 copies. Another newspaper, Headline Daily, was also hit by attackers.
According to reports, masked men approached delivery staff in Central, Hung Hom and Cheung Sha Wan, threatening them with knives. Their only purpose was to immobilise the delivery staff while they poured soy sauce on the newspapers.
A street vendor interviewed by a newspaper in Mong Kok said that today she received only 20 copies of Apple Daily, while she usually receives 40, but the company that delivered the newspapers did not explain why.
The police are investigating the matter, but it appears that the attack is politically motivated. Apple Daily is part of the Next Media group owned by media mogul Jimmy Lai, who is a staunch opponent of the Chinese Communist Party. He and his companies have suffered numerous retaliations because of Lai’s overt political dissent.
On June 18 a massive hacking attack brought down Apple Daily‘s websites in Hong Kong and Taiwan. On June 19, a stolen car rammed into the front gate of Jimmy Lai’s home in Mong Kok and the assailants left weapons in the drive. A week later delivery men were assaulted in Hung Hom and copies of the newspaper were burnt. These acts all appear to be retaliations against Jimmy Lai’s support of Occupy Central.
On July 3 the Hong Kong police arrested a 38-year-old man on suspicion of arson and criminal intimidation. The suspect owned a car used in an attack against Apple Daily. Three thugs had threatened two people with knives in Central and forced them to hand over copies of the paper, which they subsequently burnt. The car was later abandoned in Harbour Road, in Wan Chai District.
After the pro-democracy camp launched Occupy Central, the pressure on Jimmy Lai by anti-Occupy groups increased. Since October 12 anti-Occupy protesters – many of whom were heard speaking Cantonese with a mainland Chinese accent – gathered in front of Next Media headquarters in Tseung Kwan O, disrupting its operations. Two days later Jimmy Lai filed a writ demanding the High Court to issue an injunction against the protesters.