• Thu
  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 4:46am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 3:57am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 10:40am

Hong Kong controversy over Li Wei-ling sacking and Ming Pao's removal of its editor is short on facts

A motto to live by in my humble profession has been: "Comment is free but facts are sacred." Being a pundit I know, especially about the first part. But the Hong Kong Journalists Association, which is planning a protest on Sunday, seems to have lost sight of the second part.

The march is ostensibly for press freedom. So far so good. I am all for such demonstrations and may be tempted to join some of them now and then.

Americans are, rightly, proud of their First Amendment. I have often wondered why we don't do more to celebrate and popularise Article 27 of the Basic Law, which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press among other basic rights. Alas, the association isn't doing that.

It says the march is triggered by recent events such as the sacking of radio host and long-time government critic Li Wei-ling by Commercial Radio and the reassignment of Chinese-language daily Ming Pao's respected chief editor following the appointment of a Malaysian journalist as principal executive editor. These events, they say, raise alarms about self-censorship and press freedom that should concern everyone. I agree they are of public concern. The only problem is that the two cases the association has cited fall under the "he says, she says" category, stories that are full of rumours, unsubstantiated accusations and speculation; what they are really short on are facts.

I love Li's response to questions raised at City Forum about the lack of evidence in her accusations that the Leung Chun-ying administration was responsible for her sacking because of her anti-government criticism.

"I am the witness," she said. In other words, we just have to take her word for it. I bet some in the audience must wonder if she was going to add she was the judge, prosecutor and jury as well. If that was the kind of intellectual content she brought to her show, I say the only crime the radio station has committed was to have tolerated her in the spotlight for so long.

As for Ming Pao, perhaps its owners really are trying to compromise its independence. But until there is evidence of that, I see nothing wrong with bringing in experienced journalists from outside Hong Kong. It should even be encouraged given the city's rising parochialism.



This article is now closed to comments

How did this thread suddenly become about Mao? Is this the day of worship?
No, not a day of worship but a rebuttal of 45 million myths and hate-China lies that a reader just brought up. No doubt, he is a Democracy cultist like some SCMP readers who need badly to be dressed down.
Dai Muff
Why do you love the CCP so much? Do you imagine it loves you?
Indeed, one wonders why ykbc brought it up in the first place. But you were oh-so-keen to jump in, such is the pull of those rosary beads. BTW, you might want to read a little more carefully...I think ykbc doubts Dikkoter, which means he's your pal. You gotta take it easy with the demon worship sometimes...clouds your reading ability.
I know for sure that 30 million is an outright lie perpetrated by Western media propaganda.
Even with the Mao's economic mismanagement, China's grain production per capita during 1958-1961 exceeded India’s. How many Indians died from famine?
Professor Sun Jing Xian had spent over 3 years on this problem. He came up with many census errors in hukou registrations during “massive” migrations from rural areas to the cities.
At least 30 million were involved during this migration. Out of which 11.62 M new registrants in cities were not offset by the same from their origin.
Fact checks showed 7.5 M deaths in rural areas in between 1953 and 1957 were counted short in old census reports. A detailed study of Shandong death reports alone showed it missed 1.52 M deaths.
In 1964 census, a 19.12 M (=11.62+7.5) correction was restated in the 1960 census.
Because of the severe decline in China’s GDP in 1960, 30 M were repatriated back to the villages. 14.82 M had their hukou canceled from the cities while the corresponding figure was not added to the rural registry.
Other scholars who studied the deaths from malnutrition during GLF placed the upper bound at 2.5 M, which unfortunately won’t satisfy the demonized instincts of SCMP readers.
An anecdote. My relatives experienced hardships. But none died from famine.
Feel free to persist in your myth of 30 million deaths as you wallow in the 6000-year old universe.
Dai Muff
I know for sure that 30 million is an outright lie perpetrated by Western media propaganda. -- Really? You were there?
Where is the evidence that Mao Zedong should be held responsible for the death of 45 million Chinese people, according to Frank Dikotter, during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1962)?
It is brainwashed folks that must produce proof for the myth of 45 million deaths in GLF but not the other way around. Many demographic researchers have gone through this period of great hardships with a fine tooth comb and found nothing of the sort.
I agree Mao in many ways was a tyrant over and above his role of China savior. Chinese people perpetrating gwe-ilos' lies about our tragic history are indeed the scum of the earth.
Read my account posted above.
With navel gazers Li WL and Alpias Lam as the city’s cultural coaches
Shangahi and Singapore soon enough will leave HK in the dust
"Americans are, rightly, proud of their First Amendment."
But the USA is not high on the index list for press freedom. Words only not give the freedom, it is more as rules, it is a way of life. It is having respect for others.



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