Renewed fears over Hong Kong press freedoms
|Publisher||Radio Free Asia|
|Publication Date||5 June 2013|
|Cite as||Radio Free Asia, Renewed fears over Hong Kong press freedoms, 5 June 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/51cbfbe613.html [accessed 22 July 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Chen Ping speaks to the press in Hong Kong, June, 2013. EyePress News
A violent attack on the billionaire publisher of a prominent Hong Kong political magazine has sparked fears of a further erosion of traditional freedoms and autonomy in the former British colony.
Chen Ping, whose iSun Affairs weekly political news magazine circulates in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Malaysia but is banned in mainland China, was attacked on the streets near the magazine's editorial offices on Hong Kong Island on Monday.
"They attacked me from behind, and then they ran away," said Chen, who was unable to describe his assailants, although he said they appeared "professional."
Chen, 58, said he was ambushed in a side street in Hong Kong's eastern district of Chai Wan as he got into his car, and attacked by two men in their 20s or 30s wielding batons.
He was briefly hospitalized with injuries to his head, chest, and arms.
"I'm doing OK now," said Chen, a former researcher in a think tank backed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party until the military crackdown on the student-led pro-democracy movement on June 4, 1989.
"All Hong Kong people should cherish Hong Kong's freedoms, whether it be the freedom of the press, a safe society, or the rule of law," Chen said in an interview on Wednesday.
"Conflict between parties, factions, opinions, and interest groups is normal, but we mustn't allow society to slide into criminal acts of violence and thuggery," he said.
Hong Kong-based veteran journalist Ching Cheong said the attack on Chen was further evidence of a decline in Hong Kong's traditional press freedom.
"It doesn't matter how you slice it. This was a huge challenge to freedom of the press in Hong Kong," Ching said.
"In the past, there has been continual pressure and harassment of media organizations, so perhaps this [attack] will get Hong Kong people worried," he said.
"They should stand united to prevent actions that try to cow the media."
Ching said that Hong Kong's press freedom has been gradually encroached upon by those with wealth and power in recent years.
"This is very serious," he said.
The iSun Affairs hit out at the attack in a statement on Tuesday, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
"We strongly condemn such thuggish behaviour in the free society of Hong Kong with rule of law," it said.
"We appeal for police to quickly track down the culprits in order to maintain a free, independent environment for the media," it said.
No arrests have been made so far, although a police investigation is under way.
While the magazine has a reputation for publishing articles on "sensitive" political topics, its biggest impact came earlier this year from a January interview with a former supporter of chief executive Leung Chun-ying who accused him of lying.
The deeply unpopular Leung was narrowly selected for the chief executive job this year by a pro-Beijing committee.
Call for resignation
On Jan. 1 of this year, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demand his resignation and universal elections for his replacement.
Anxiety over the city's political future sparked an "Occupy Central" movement in the downtown business district last year, with participants calling for universal suffrage by the next election.
Under the terms of its 1997 handover to China, Hong Kong was guaranteed the continuation of existing freedoms of expression and association for 50 years.
But journalists and political analysts say that the ruling Chinese Communist Party has redoubled its ideological work efforts in the territory following mass demonstrations on July 1, 2003 against proposed anti-subversion legislation, which the government later abandoned.
Last year, proposals for patriotic education in the Hong Kong's schools were shelved after thousands of protesters camped outside government headquarters for several weeks, dressed in black and chanting for the withdrawal from the curriculum of what they called "brainwashing" propaganda from the Communist Party.
Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.