'Underexposed' Emily Lau points finger at Beijing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 December, 2004, 12:00am

Outspoken legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing is complaining she does not enjoy the news coverage she once did, and suspects Beijing is pressuring media to avoid her.

She said she had not been interviewed by local television news for a while and claimed she knew of orders to prevent former Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming appearing on screen.

'If there is anything about me on the television, it is something negative,' said Ms Lau, adding that in the early 1990s, she had plenty of media coverage.

She said she suspected the media was experiencing pressure from the mainland to limit her exposure. Ms Lau, a former journalist, also said her ex-colleagues were to blame for her lack of exposure in recent months.

'I have not changed. I am still a member of a number of Legco panels, I still say a lot of things,' The Frontier politician told the Sunday Morning Post.

In a survey carried out by the University of Hong Kong last month, Ms Lau ranked sixth in a list of the 10 most popular lawmakers.

Earlier this year she was in the headlines after a number of attacks were made on her office, but since then her appearances on television and in the press have been infrequent, even during the Legco elections in September.

'Media friends simply ignored me in the elections,' the veteran legislator said.

She said that during the elections the media focus shifted to Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who was in the same list with her in the New Territories East geographical constituency.

'I guess it is because he was contesting a Legco seat for the first time, while it was the fifth time for me.'

Mr Tong, of the Article 23 Concern Group, was elected along with Ms Lau.

She still managed to cause a surprise by being elected as chairwoman of Legco's Finance Committee, beating Philip Wong Yu-hong, of the Liberal Party, by 30 votes to 28.

Li Pang-kwong, a political analyst at Lingnan University, said that in the absence of supporting data it was hard to tell whether Ms Lau's media exposure had dropped.

But Dr Li said news reporting on pro-democracy politicians had tended to be negative in the past two years.

'Also, Ms Lau has not taken the lead in starting any of the recent hot discussions.

'She has participated in the debate of the referendum [on universal suffrage] but it was Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung who brought the matter up,' he said.

Dr Li said The Frontier was too focused on democratic issues and overlooked social issues.

'While 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung did something on the referendum issue, he also helped protesting Cheung Chau workers deprived of their salaries. Many politicians and political parties are trying to get support from different classes, but The Frontier only focused on democracy issues.'

Ms Lau, however, said The Frontier would not be changing direction because the grouping was 'too small'.