Date
22 October 2019
Chief Executive Carrie Lam, together with her principal officials and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo, held a press conference on Monday to denounce the violent incidents in Sheung Wan and Yuen Long the night before. Photo: Reuters
Chief Executive Carrie Lam, together with her principal officials and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo, held a press conference on Monday to denounce the violent incidents in Sheung Wan and Yuen Long the night before. Photo: Reuters

Journalists serve as last line of defense of ‘two systems’

Thanks to the professionalism and untiring efforts of our local news media workers, people across Hong Kong and overseas were able to witness in real-time the “white terror” in Yuen Long on July 21.

What people also witnessed that night were the flaws in the management of the police force, the government’s incompetence in handling emergency situations, and above all, its indifference to the value of citizens’ lives.

Press freedom is indispensable to any civilized society, and defending our press freedom is instrumental in preserving the boundaries of the “two systems”.

During the social resistance movement in recent months, frontline news reporters have been risking their own personal safety trying to bring us the most updated coverage of the clashes between the police and the extradition bill protesters.

In the Yuen Long incident, former TVB journalist Ryan Lau Chun-kong suffered serious head injury, his face covered with blood, as he tried to rescue one of those being attacked, while a female reporter of The Stand News was beaten to the ground by thugs while she was bringing live coverage of the incident.

Sadly, as the working conditions for our news reporters continue to deteriorate, our government has remained largely indifferent, nor has it adopted any solid measure to improve their situation.

In stark contrast, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) has been a lot more vocal when it comes to protecting the personal safety of local news reporters.

On July 22, members of the FCC staged a silent protest holding banners that read “Yes to press freedom, no to violence against journalists”.

While frontline reporters are bringing us up-to-the-minute coverage of the anti-extradition bill movement at the risk of their own lives, other journalists have opened up a “second front” at government press conferences, during which they relentlessly and courageously grilled our chief executive and other officials in order to seek the truth.

Their respect for human life, empathy for those who have fallen victim to violence, as well as their great spirit of perseverance in trying to serve the public interest have provided the exact kind of momentum that we need in order to defend press freedom and rule of law.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 25

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/CG

HKEJ columnist