The king doesn’t like him. The Beijing mouthpiece doesn’t like him either. But that doesn’t mean the king likes the Beijing mouthpiece.
Such was the embarrassing revelation that came out of a recording of the remarks made by Executive Council member Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, and leaked by Commercial Radio on Wednesday.
Li, a.k.a. King Arthur, made the remarks during last month’s meeting of the governing council of the University of Hong Kong on the nomination of former law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro vice chancellor of the prestigious institution.
Li, who is widely tipped to become the next HKU Council chairman, did not mince words during the supposedly closed-door deliberation on why he thought Chan didn’t deserve to be appointed to the post.
But in so doing, Li also made some tactless remarks about two pro-establishment newspapers.
According to the leaked tape, Li said: “It has been said that the left-wing press, Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao, have been running hundreds of articles against this candidate. And quite honestly, I don’t read Wen Wei Po or Ta Kung Pao, and I think most people in Hong Kong do not read Wen Wei Po or Ta Kung Pao. Relatively, most people take a negative view, the more they say about something, the more we feel anti whatever they say.”
We believe those were honest words coming out of Li, who was educated at St. Paul’s Co-educational College before studying medicine at Cambridge and Harvard.
But his unsolicited media diagnosis would not sit well with the two newspapers.
While Ta Kung Pao decided to keep its silence, Wen Wei Po fired back.
A spokesman for Wen Wei Po, which many regard as the Communist Party’s mouthpiece in Hong Kong, said the voice recording included certain comments made about the paper with strong and subjective words that deviate from reality.
“If those words are from Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, Wen Wei feels deep regret. We hope Professor Li will get to know more about Wen Wei Po before making such comments.”
To be sure, Wen Wei Po has been the most consistent voice against Professor Chan’s appointment, even running front-page stories about the issue — including a nine-page report on how he allegedly messed up the HKU law school’s reputation.
We are not suggesting those reports are deserving of Pulitzer or SOPA awards for editorial excellence, but we would not deny that they reflected Beijing’s thinking about the university at the critical period before, during and after the Occupy Central movement.
In its reply to Li’s remarks, Wen Wei Po said the paper made substantial coverage of the pro vice chancellor appointment that included exclusive reports made by its highly professional reporters who endlessly endeavored to find the truth.
Presenting sufficient and clear evidence is the way the paper tried to serve the people‘s right to know while presenting relevant issues to stir up public concern and discussion in society, it said.
Aware of its social responsibility, Wen Wei Po said, the paper serves as a media platform that carries different opinions from all walks of life.
A valid question to ask: Why doesn’t Arthur Li read — and like Wen Wei Po?
After all, they are of the same wavelength. Beijing would be happier if they were friendlier to each other.
Wen Wei, in fact, has made the first move: It offered Li a free year’s subscription so that he could familiarize himself with the newspaper and, hopefully, be more objective when making comments about it.
So there. The next move is Li’s.
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