Unidentified attackers hurled Molotov cocktails at the home and office of a vocal anti-Communist media mogul early Monday, the latest in a string of attacks aimed at media figures in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Next Media publishes Apple Daily, a newspaper popular for its criticism of the Hong Kong administration and the Chinese central government.
At nearly the same time, officials said, someone hurled a similar flaming bottle out of a moving dark-colored sedan outside the entrance of Next Media headquarters in an industrial park about 12 miles away.
In both attacks, security guards on site put out the fires within minutes.
Lai, who made his fortune in the clothing industry before making a foray into publishing in the early 1990s, has been the most visible financial backer of Occupy Central, the pro-democracy movement that drew tens of thousands of demonstrators into the streets last fall.
During the protests, a number of known Triad gang members were arrested after getting into physical confrontations with democracy demonstrators. Occupy participants said they believed opponents of the movement had enlisted Triad members to attack and intimidate protesters.
After the protests began in late September, Lai had been a regular at the Admiralty district encampment site and was often seen working under a canopy there.
Apple Daily reported that Lai's home has been subject to bomb attacks twice since 1993. Neither case was solved, and media attack cases in the city in general have a low clearance rate.
Police said they were investigating Monday's twin attacks as arson.
Shirley Yam, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Assn., sharply denounced Monday's attacks and called on police to do more to prevent such incidents and solve open cases.
"We strongly condemn any violence on any media regardless of its political stance. Some may not agree with the editorial line of the Apple Daily or its management in particular during the Occupy movement," Yam added. "However, this should not justify any physical attack on them."
"China's growing economic weight is allowing it to extend its influence over the media in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, which had been largely spared political censorship until recently" the group added. "Media independence is now in jeopardy in these three territories."
Law is a special correspondent. Law reported from Hong Kong and Makinen from Beijing.