Tiananmen Square crackdown

Heavy hand of law comes down too hard

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2012, 12:00am

Bravo, Asia's finest! You have proved yourself to be every bit as adept at stifling freedom of speech and of the press as your mainland counterparts.

On Saturday, police officers forcibly removed a local reporter from a media area after he shouted a question about the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown to Hu Jintao while the president was taking a tour of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

As Hu walked by the journalists, the Apple Daily reporter shouted: 'President Hu, the people of Hong Kong want the truth behind June 4 to be revealed, do you know this?'

The reporter did not leave the media area to interfere with Hu's entourage. Hu heard the question, turned to the journalist and then continued on his way without making a comment.

That should have been the end of the matter.

Granted, the question was irrelevant, unimaginative and out of context. You can ask that question anytime anywhere of any state leader, which is why it was really beside the point.

But it is not a crime in Hong Kong to embarrass state leaders by asking stupid questions. Or is it? Police guarding the area seemed to think so.

The reporter was immediately taken by a policeman to a stairwell where he was questioned for 15 minutes and then reprimanded. He was told the yelling breached rules.

What rules were they? I am sure all reporters in Hong Kong would like to know. Was the breach merely for asking a question, yelling it too loudly, embarrassing the president or asking about the June 4 crackdown?

Apple Daily is well-known for its anti-Beijing stance. If a reporter standing in the same area had been from China Daily and had shouted an innocuous question asking whether Hu was enjoying his visit, would the police have pulled him aside?

The officers involved in this incident should be disciplined. Also officers in the field obviously need better training and instructions on how to deal with the media.

And the police commissioner should apologise to the reporter and reassure local journalists that such police abuse will not happen again.