An anxious Hong Kong public is beginning to wonder whether Wednesday’s attack on Kevin Lau Chun-to, a former chief editor of Ming Pao Daily, was an attempt to silence him, and in a bigger sense, to muzzle press freedom.
There is no evidence the assault is related to his work as a journalist but it raises serious concerns in the wake of a similar attack, albeit less severe, on Shih Wing-ching, founder of Centaline Property Agency Ltd. and am730, a free Hong Kong tabloid, in July last year.
Lau was attacked with a knife by an unknown assailant in Sai Wan Ho in East Hong Kong Island at around 10:20 a.m. on Wednesday. He sustained six stab wounds and was brought to a hospital in critical condition, according to Hong Kong police.
The suspect fled on a motorcycle with an accomplice.
The Hong Kong Journalist Association and the Hong Kong News Executives’ Association condemned the attack and said it was a threat to press freedom.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who said he has known Lau for 20 years, ordered the police to hunt the suspects and vowed he will not tolerate violence to undermine rule of law in Hong Kong.
Lau stepped down as Ming Pao chief editor last month and transferred to the newspaper’s digital division. He was succeeded by Chong Tien Siong, a Malaysian with a pro-Beijing political stance, some Hong Kong newspapers reported.
Ching Cheong, a current affairs commentator and a former Ming Pao reporter, said Lau might have been attacked for his decision to chase the source of overseas assets by some Communist Party members using information obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
In July last year, Shih Wing-ching found the windshield and windows of his car smashed by an attacker.
Meanwhile, concern over press freedom in Hong Kong has been growing since government critic and radio talk show host Lee Wai-ling was fired by Commercial Radio on Feb 12.
On Sunday, about 6,000 people marched to protest threats to free speech. As many as 1,500 joined the march at its peak, according to police estimates.
Employee stock ownership at center of SOE reform
State-owned assets administrations in several provinces will push ahead in the first half of the year with plans to let employees take stakes in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to diversify ownership, the China Securities Journal reported Thursday, citing unidentified sources. The idea was proposed at the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November and is expected to become a focus of SOE reform after the annual sessions next month of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the report said. More programs are expected in the second half. Some industry insiders said it would be better if only SOE employees in key positions rather than all workers are allowed to share profits, creating “golden handcuff” financial incentives to retain important employees, the report said.
Shanghai mulls new approach to blue-chip trade
The Shanghai Stock Exchange will look into introducing a differentiated trading mechanism for blue chips this year to attract long-term capital to the market, the Shanghai Securities News reported Thursday, citing the bourse. The program will be a top priority for the exchange in 2014. Meanwhile, the exchange will study the establishment of a high-yield blue-chip board and gradually introduce preferred stocks this year. The bourse will focus on supporting businesses related to the internet, energy conservation and environmental protection, alternative energy vehicles as well as culture. The exchange will also expand bond issuance on the market and launch exchangeable bonds and write-down bonds, the report said.
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