Macau is exerting pressure on local media outlets to stop them from reporting negative news on last week’s Typhoon Hato.
The move is an attempt to divert attention from its aftermath and play down the government’s role in the handling of events, Apple Daily reports.
A reporter said he was told by his boss that his news reports concerning Hato must have a positive spin or he would lose his job.
Many other reporters from different media outlets are said to have received similar instructions from their management.
On Tuesday, Macau Daily, ran a front-page story on Chief Executive Fernando Chui working with a committee on responses to natural disasters. On the second page, the newspaper ran an article thanking Beijing and the People’s Liberation Army for assisting in the aftermath of the typhoon.
Responding to questions that Hong Kong reporters were barred from entering Macau and local media were asked to publish positive reports, government spokesman Victor Chan Chi-ping said he was not aware of the any such incidents.
He said the government will not interfere with media operations.
The Macau Journalists Association said in a statement on Tuesday night that editorial staff and reporters from at least five local media outlets were told to disseminate positive news regarding Hato, and that they should refrain from criticizing government officials.
The association said it was furious over what it said were government attempts to interfere with press freedom. It called on members and the public to defend their right to information.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan was denied entry to Macau on Tuesday.
Wong said she has been to Macau on several occasions in the past and has no idea why she would be denied entry this time.
She said the Macau police are apparently not up to par in handling and assessing intelligence and lack the ability to determine who poses a threat to its internal security.
“It is a complete joke and would damage Macau’s image for sure,” Wong said, adding she plans to a file a complaint to the Macau chief executive and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
Wong will also report the incident to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
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