Hong Kong press freedom is at its worst in several decades, with violent attacks, coercion and unfriendly government policy making this year one of its darkest chapters, Apple Daily reported Monday.
Since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took office in 2012, press freedom in Hong Kong has deteriorated while the central government in China has also stepped up pressure on Hong Kong over its political development, Sham Yee-lan, chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), was quoted as saying.
Sham’s comments coincided with the release of the group’s annual report on press freedom.
She cited a brutal attack on Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau, the firing of Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling, companies pulling advertisements from Apple Daily and am730, along with Hong Kong Television Network Ltd. being denied a free-to-air broadcast license as signs freedom of the press in Hong Kong is tightening up.
HKJA vice chairwoman Shirley Yam said the group has set up a self-censorship supervisory committee to handle complaints from frontline media personnel if their work is stopped, pulled or changed by their management for political considerations.
When a complaint is received, the committee will seek the response of the parties involved. If the complaint is found valid, details will be made public so members of the community will know their right to information has been abused, Yam said.
Responding to the HKJA report, the government said press freedom is protected by the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, and the government respects freedom of the press that Hong Kong has enjoyed as a core value.
It said the government considers the media as a partner and will help facilitate its work.
However, media veteran Mak Ying-ting said government agencies have been releasing information through their own websites or using “government sources” more often, which is an unofficial way to disseminate information and skirt questions from journalists.
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