Kevin Lau Chun-to: brutal attack on a well-respected journalist
Ming Pao has a well-deserved reputation for reliability, neutrality and professionalism.
In a town where many news outlets have their own agendas and exploit stories from a politically tainted, salacious or commercial angle, the Chinese-language paper upholds a high standard for independence and the public interest. This proud tradition was exemplified by Kevin Lau Chun-to, who was until recently its chief editor. That is why the brutal and merciless attack on Lau last week provokes such outrage and anger in our community.
If a respected editor could be attacked in such a blatant and ruthless manner, no one in the news-gathering business is safe. In a rare show of unity, key news associations and parties across the political spectrum yesterday marched for press freedom. They stopped at the police headquarters to put pressure on the force to catch the culprits. We still don't know the motive or the identities of the attackers and their mastermind. The only people who have a reasonable chance to get to the ttheruth are police investigators.
There has been a long list of attacks on local journalists and media professionals since the handover. But attackers are rarely caught; and no mastermind has ever been brought to justice. The march yesterday should serve as a reminder that despite its professionalism, the police's record in solving such cases has been dismal. Let us hope investigators will shine this time.
People are angry and confused. That a controversy arose earlier over the circumstances of Lau's reassignment within Ming Pao has added to growing concerns about press freedom. Since the attack, some pan-democratic figures and online forums have spread accusations, wild speculations and even conspiracy theories, leading to censorship and overexcited rebuttals from mainland state news groups. The exchange was wholly unnecessary. Now is not the time to rush to judgment.
Over the weekend, with a dignified composure, Lau's wife, herself a distinguished journalist and former Post colleague, thanked the community and urged people to do their job and fulfil their professional duty.
"That is the way to unify our hearts and community," she said. Those are wise and brave words.