The whistle-blower in a Sheung Shui dumping dispute has been put under police protection in hospital after a gang attacked him.
Hau Tai-lok, 45, is recovering from a chopping attack by three men on Monday. He underwent surgery for injuries to his right arm.
A uniformed police officer has been sent to protect Hau in North District Hospital as an investigation continues.
No arrests have been made.
"I was prepared for the attack and I had known it was only a matter of time before it would come," Hau said yesterday. "I am now a bit worried about my family, but there is nothing you can do when someone targets you in the dark."
Hau said he had not received threats before the attack, but alleged it was related to his high-profile fight in the illegal dumping case. His concern prompted him to install surveillance cameras at his home in Ho Sheung Heung village.
Hau told journalists and lawmakers about dumping of construction waste at his village in July 2009. The revelation led to action by the planning and environmental protection departments. Drivers who helped transport the waste have been prosecuted and fined. Among the private sites on which waste was dumped was farmland occupied by Hau's mother.
The attack took place at about 6.30am on Monday as Hau, a construction worker, waited for colleagues in his car outside Sheung Shui rail station. Three masked men approached his vehicle and one broke a window with a hammer. Hau grabbed the hammer and got out of the car, but another man chopped his right arm with a knife. The trio fled in a car before police arrived. Police said they found a burned-out car they believe is linked to the attack at about 7am in Ta Kwu Ling.
In January, Hau ran in a village election for indigenous inhabitant representatives but was defeated by fellow villagers allied with Bowie Hau Chi-keung, the former Ho Sheung Heung village head. Bowie Hau is now the elected resident representative of the village and elected chairman of the Sheung Shui Rural Committee, a powerful body in local rural affairs.
When Bowie Hau was told about the attack, he said the victim had many enemies. "He deserves it and it is good that someone has taken 'care' of him. I will send him wreaths to comfort him."
Hau Mo-yee, Hau Tai-lok's sister, said she lived in fear and was going out less. "I guess we are safe in the village, but who knows what will happen outside?" she said.
Hau Tai-lok in North District Hospital yesterday