Date
26 September 2017
Attacks on Next Media founder and pro-democracy champion Jimmy Lai have underscored the threats facing anti-establishment voices in Hong Kong. Photo: Bloomberg
Attacks on Next Media founder and pro-democracy champion Jimmy Lai have underscored the threats facing anti-establishment voices in Hong Kong. Photo: Bloomberg

Press freedom in HK under threat: US writers group

Press freedom in Hong Kong is increasingly under threat, especially since the street protests last year that exposed public discontent with the local government and the Chinese Communist Party, a New York-based writers’ group said.

In a report, the PEN American Center said cases such as assaults on journalists, news organizations censoring stories and advertisers shunning anti-establishment publications point to an alarming erosion of Hong Kong’s tradition of freewheeling news media, the New York Times reported.

The writers’ group also noted longer-term trends that it says have narrowed the range of news and views available to Hong Kong’s residents.

“With most print and online media organizations in Hong Kong owned by figures with business interests in mainland China, critics argue that Hong Kong’s self-regulation has led to self-censorship in favor of those interests,” the report says.

Meanwhile, there have also been physical attacks on media figures.

Last February, the former chief editor of the Ming Pao newspaper, Kevin Lau, was grievously injured when assailants slashed him with meat cleavers.

And in the latest incident, assailants tossed a firebomb Monday at the home of Next Media founder Jimmy Lai, who had been a vocal supporter of the pro-democracy movement in the city.

“We’re ringing an early warning bell to say there are troubling signs,” Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of PEN American Center, was quoted as saying in an interview in Hong Kong.

“When you see the pattern that comes together, it’s pretty disturbing, and there’s a sense of a deliberate hand in all of this.”

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FL/RC

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