'Co-operative' media more muted than HK counterparts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2007, 12:00am

The media in Macau was more muted than their Hong Kong counterparts yesterday in their coverage of the Labour Day march in which police fire on protesters. While Hong Kong papers ran reports questioning the police's handling of the protest, Macau's focused on the force's insistence that opening fire was justified.

'It is down to a difference in culture,' Chinese University political analyst Ivan Choy Chi-keung said. 'Macau is a place dominated by pro-Beijing, pro-government people, and you can see many civil groups are set up and run by these people.'

He said the disparity could be traced back to the 1960s - while Hong Kong's leftists were sidelined, those in Macau gained the upper hand. Mr Choy, who taught at the University of Macau in the early 1990s, noted that Hong Kong was a more open society.

'The big newspapers in Hong Kong are kind of anti-government - cynical about the government,' he said. 'The two biggest Macau newspapers, the Macau Daily News and Jornal Va Kio, are owned by pro-China people and in sympathy with the government.'

Hong Kong Baptist University assistant professor of communication To Yiu-ming said Macau's media was similar to the mainland's. 'They are co-operative with the government,' he said. Professor To said the media should allow more space for open discussion of social events, as that was vital for the progress of society. 'It is not only about press freedom,' he said. 'Free flow of information is important. It is a basic human right and it is how a society can walk towards a better future.'

People would learn about events whether or not newspapers reported them. He said: 'There are so many ways to learn the news. People in Macau can also find the other side of a story from Hong Kong media.'

Macau legislator Jose Coutinho was saddened by the lack of independence in the Macau media: 'They should be more critical, like their counterparts in Hong Kong, so they can bolster their role as the voice of people in society.'