Hong Kong As It Is

June 4 vigil in HK, after 25 years

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Hong Kong As It Is

A call to action – march this Sunday for press freedom

I, like many others in Hong Kong, have been extremely concerned about the gradual disappearance of press freedom in the city. This Sunday the 23rd of February, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) will stage a protest against the increasingly blatant attacks on press and speech freedom in HK. Let’s come together to answer the HKJA’s call and march to the Government Headquarters from Charter Garden, Central at 2:30pm.0220_banner

Please see below HKJA’s statement:

Attacks against press freedom and the freedom of expression in Hong Kong have been increasing daily. In the face of such threats, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and other organisations from the news media will hold a protest on Sunday to support the freedom of expression and resist attempts to silence the media. The protest will end with a rally outside the Chief Executive’s Office, where we will demand the Chief Executive acts to maintain Hong Kong’s space for free speech, free from attack.

The protest will start at 2.30 p.m. at Chater Garden and marchers will proceed east towards Admiralty, passing through Tamar Street and Harcourt Road before arriving at the Chief Executive’s Office in Tim Wa Avenue.

Well-known broadcasters and writers who have been censored will speak at the rally outside the Chief Executive’s Office. Representatives of disadvantaged groups whose plight have been highlighted through the news media will talk about the impact a free press and free speech has on society and people’s livelihood. And members of the younger generation, who learn about the world through the media, will share their thoughts and feelings about their future in a society where facts may be distorted.

“A journalist’s duty is to report, not to protest but our consciences compel us to raise the alarm: those in power are attacking the media and their ultimate aim is to create a population kept in ignorance and blind loyalty,” said Hong Kong Journalists Association Chairperson Sham Yee-lan.

Journalism Educators for Press Freedom, Ming Pao Staff Concern Group, RTHK Programme Staff Union, Next Media Trade Union and the Independent Commentators Association Preparatory Committee share the HKJA’s fears. Together, we urge all Hong Kong people who cherish Hong Kong’s freedom of the press and freedom of expression to stand up and join in Sunday’s “Free Speech, Free Hong Kong” protest; to jointly speak out for Hong Kong’s core values of press freedom and free speech.

For enquiries, please contact HKJA at 2591 0692.

Hong Kong Journalists Association
19 February 2014

Hong Kong As It Is

Hong Kong being silenced

Updated on 12 Feb 2014:

Famous and outspoken radio host Li Wei-ling was fired without any warning or explanation from her employer at Commercial Radio Hong Kong on 11 Feb 2014. She said she believed completely that Chief Executive CY Leung was behind this. 

Updated on 20 Jan 2014:

The latest is that the founder of am730, a free newspaper critical of government and authorities, Shih Wing-ching, disclosed that the mainland capital companies have been withdrawing advertisements from its newspaper. “Beijing will try to shrink the press freedom of Hong Kong all around, as they have lost [out] in the city’s public opinion since the handover,” Shih told Commercial Radio (reported by SCMP on 15 Jan).

The editorial team at am730 issued a statement subsequently, expressing their concern over press freedom being suppressed. 

Reading “Ming Pao” is my family tradition. Until now, my father still buys and reads “Ming Pao” every day, which is widely seen as an influential Chinese newspaper with independence. So when the news broke on 7 January that the newspaper’s chief editor, a Hong Konger promoted to the position two years ago,  will be replaced by a Malaysian, that shocks me and many others. The move is so unusual that it prompts the newspaper staff to sign a petition to ask for explanation of the sudden change and the assurance of editorial independence from the senior management. It also prompted 200 former staff of the newspaper to sign a declaration expressing their concern over the erosion of Hong Kong’s press freedom. Columnists of the newspaper also opted to leave their column blank to protest against the unpopular change of the chief editor.

Without a doubt, Beijing is clamping down on Hong Kong’s press, heavily and successfully. Those caring about Hong Kong have reasons for concern.

Hong Kong media organizations fell one after another in recent years, bowing to Beijing influence. So sad. Beijing Government forgets one thing though. More it wants to control, more things get out of control.

Prior to Ming Pao and am730 incidents, a serious of events have been unfurling, showing how press in Hong Kong is being gradually controlled and self censoring.  This, cannot be turned a blind eye to. When Hong Kong completely loses its press freedom, it is certified dead.

Here is just a sampling of how Hong Kong is losing its press freedom:

SCMP appointed former China Daily correspondent as chief editor in 2011

Hong Kong veteran English-language newspaper South China Morning Post was acquired by  Kerry Group in 1993, whose boss is a Malaysian tycoon with friendly ties to Beijing authority. Since then the century-old newspaper has stirred up a raft of controversies surrounding self censorship.  The appointment of Mr Wang Xiang Wei in 2011 as Chief Editor signifies its total demise, who is a former “China Daily” reporter and a Political Consultative Conference member (only those with friendly relationships with mainland authorities can be appointed such).  A weekly magazine (陽光時務) in June 2012 has produced an exclusive feature, with former SCMP Beijing-based reporter Paul Mooney giving a personal account of why he was kicked out of the SCMP by Wang and the tarnished reputation of Wang as a censor. Read the report here.

Commercial Radio Host Replaced in November 2013

A host of Commercial Radio renowned for daring criticisms of Hong Kong and Beijing authories, was removed from the radio station’s prominent morning show. She was asked to host an evening program instead.

Hong Kong Economic Times’ Self-censorship in December 2013  

A musician who is a columnist for Hong Kong Economic Times complained that the name of Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung was struck out from his column article. The article is about an Ikea toy becoming the symbol of rage of Hong Kongers towards the government led by CY Leung. His article originally mentioned twice CY Leung, and twice, the name was struck out by the newspaper.

Hong Kong As It Is

Another historic day for HK – 20 Oct rally

This is yet another historic day for Hong Kong – 120,000 people turned up to protest the government’s decision not to issue the free-to-air TV license to Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) last Sunday. 500,000 people gave “like” to a Facebook page calling for protest against the government’s decision and then this past Sunday, thousands of people, most of them wearing black in response to the organizer’s call, marched from Causeway Bay to the Government Headquarters in Admiralty. photo (3) photo (86)

When I approached Admiralty, I was both excited and surprised to see a sea of people converge on the government site to rally against CY Leung and his government’s decision. It evoked the day when thousands of people converged at the same place to protest the implementation of national education in school curricula. The sense of solidarity gripped the people attending the rally who clapped hands and waved at each other.photophoto (85)People made speech, denouncing Leung and defending Hong Kong’s core value, bringing with them amplifier and microphone to make their voice (2)And all sorts of banners in the mockery of the government’s decision were exhibited during the 1 (15) photo 3photo (4)photo 1 (16)CY Leung’s government is a joke in the minds of Hong Kong people – how much public outcry Leung has aroused since he was elected by a mere 689 votes in a Beijing-rigged election. While a reasonable person would think that HKTV deserves the license for its entrepreneurial spirit and efforts to revive Hong Kong’s TV golden era and creative industry, his government threw it out, saying that this is good for the health of the local TV industry. In other words, it wants to promote the health of the TV business by forestalling any disruptive forces that would change the established order, keeping HK people forever at the mercy of the monopoly of TVB, the current major player. ATV, kowtowing to Beijing and controlled by “red” capitalists, is another current player, whose TV programs are simply rubbish. The fact that ATV can still exist despite its very poor performance and reputation, is another joke.

Though Hong Kong people have long been deprived of quality TV programs, it took the government three years to finally make a decision regarding issuing new TV license, a decision that is so unreasonable and ridiculous that draws the ire of the public. People are angry that there is no justice but political motivation behind the decision. photo (5)What is more, the government keeps saying that it is the collective decision of the cabinet (i.e. Executive Council) whose deliberations should be kept confidential. Who are these people on the cabinet btw? They include mostly Leung’s loyalists who Leung appointed to the cabinet so that he could return their favor of supporting his bid for Chief Executive. If the cabinet has no responsibility to explain their decisions which are of great public interest on the flimsy excuse of confidentiality, then Hong Kong affairs will be in the hands of a select few who are not held accountable for their decisions. Why should Hong Kong’s future be governed by them? They have no mandate from Hong Kong people to govern or make decisions on their behalf! That this happens in Hong Kong, the so called Asia’s world city, is another big joke.

photo (87)
Flashing anti-Leung poster from a tram in support of the rally

Since Leung took power, Hong Kong people have taken to the streets a few times en masse. You only need to be in the march to feel how much people here despise him and want him out. I hope Beijing can see that we Hong Kong people want real democracy and to elect our leader, not one that implanted from above like Leung, an idiot and one with no integrity, not to mention leadership and vision. Forcing people to bow to the will of those with power can only backfire, one day.

Hong Kong Hong Kong As It Is

1 July March

photo (61)Just some photos belatedly capturing the scene of 1 July 2013 march by Hong Kong people, when typhoon signal No. 3 was hoisted and there was pouring rain at times. People were bracing for bad weather in protesting the incompetence and unscrupulousness of Chief Executive CY Leung, a Bejing loyalist who cheated his way to be where he is, and is known for telling lies and empty talks.

This man holding a placard saying "Down with wolf Leung - Real Universal Suffrage Wanted"
This man holding a placard saying “Step Down, Wolf Leung – Real Universal Suffrage Wanted”

photo (59)The march was also a strong showing of the public demand for democracy.  It is obvious that many protesters support the “occupy central” movement which is poised to take place if no real democracy roadmap is rolled out by the Government. People are fed up with the snail’s pace of the city’s progress towards democracy.

The three in t-shirts are the founders of "occupy central' movement.
The three in white t-shirts are the founders of “occupy central’ movement.

They shouted “step down, 689”, mocking CY Leung got 689 votes from a selection committee of 2000 people in a population of 7 million.

I saw so many people putting money into the movement’s donation boxes. It was later revealed that the movement had collected $0.8M donation during the rainy march, much higher than expected.

CY Leung was so scared of the movement that he claimed earlier his government would suppress the illegal movement. And the police recently arrested a volunteer of the movement, whom the police said participated in illegal assembly two years ago on 1 July, raising questions why the volunteer was not arrested earlier, but only now. It is any reasonable person’s belief that she was persecuted for political reason.

It was estimated that about 100,000 people have turned out for the 1 July march despite the typhoon weather.