23 October 2016
JB Pun Magar (R) speaks to a reporter while on a visit to meet the members of a music band named Minus Zero. Photo: i-Cable
JB Pun Magar (R) speaks to a reporter while on a visit to meet the members of a music band named Minus Zero. Photo: i-Cable

How a Nepalese journalist is watching out for his community

“Life affects life” is the motto of JB Pun Magar, a Nepalese journalist in Hong Kong who has been focused on affairs related to his community here.

Founding a website called Watchdog Nepal two years ago, Magar, 41, has so far written about the lives of 50 Hong Kong-based Nepalese citizens.

“The image of Nepalese youth is not good in Hong Kong. I am here because some youth are playing a positive role in society,” he said recently while visiting a music band called Minus Zero which was formed by some Nepalese youngsters.

Through his writings, Magar wants to show support to the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong who find it difficult to enter university due to competition and language barriers, i-Cable reported. [See here]

Without university degrees, many ethnic minority youth face difficulty in finding jobs, Magar says, adding that the Hong Kong government hasn’t put in enough effort to ensure job opportunities.

Magar said he worked as a security guard for a while after he moved to Hong Kong in 2009.

He said he got a monthly salary of HK$15,000, which is not bad for minorities in the city, but he quit the job after some time as he wanted to be a journalist and help other Nepalese people here.

In 2012, he founded a newspaper called Ethnic Voice, specializing in coverage of issues related to the Nepalese community in Hong Kong.

Later, in 2014, he founded Watchdog Nepal, using the online platform to raise awareness of problems confronting the ethnic minority group, including human trafficking. 

Umbrella Movement

Magar also wrote about Occupy protests, which made him more determined to help local youth from ethnic minorities.

At a protest site in Admiralty, he was surprised to meet a group of Nepalese women, who told him that they joined the protests to fight for a bright future for their children.

He wrote four articles about the Nepalese who participated in the Umbrella movement but then received calls from some Nepali association leaders asking him to take down the articles.

Magar complied as he wanted to protect the interviewees.

Although many Hong Kong Nepalese leaders tend to lean towards the pan-establishment camp as they don’t want to provoke the government, Magar says he will not step back, insisting that he will always stand by those who need help.

He says he treasures the press freedom in Hong Kong, though there have been concerns recently about growing threats to free speech in the city.

A knife attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau in 2014 and the more recent case of missing booksellers have given rise to worries that Hong Kong is no longer a safe place for journalists, Magar noted.

That said, the situation here is still a lot better compared to the dangers faced by the media in Nepal, he said.

Translation by Chloe Chow

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