• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 2:21am
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong journalists take to streets for press freedom

Journalists' union says 6,000 joined rally to urge chief executive to protect their independence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 February, 2014, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 11:00am

Watch: Protestors march for press freedom in Hong Kong

Leaving behind their pens and voice recorders, journalists switched roles yesterday to march in defence of press freedom.

The "Free Speech, Free Hong Kong" protest was organised by the Hong Kong Journalists Association, which said 6,000 took part. Police put the figure at 1,600.

"Such a big number of people illustrates that the public has started to feel that press freedom is at risk," association chairwoman Sham Yee-lan said.

The association claims recent events threaten freedom of the press and speech in the city.

It says these include the dismissal of Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling, an outspoken critic of the government; claims by Chinese-language newspapers Apple Daily and AM730 that mainland-backed firms and banks had pulled advertisements because of their editorial stances; and Ming Pao management's decision to assign a Malaysian to take up a senior post as principal executive editor at the paper.

Nick Kwok Hing-fai, a photojournalist at Ming Pao who took his two-year-old daughter on the march, said he came because of the next generation. "I'm afraid my daughter will grow up regarding the June 4 incident as only a riot," he said. "If we don't tell the truth now, there will be nothing we can say tomorrow."

Protesters marched from Chater Garden to the Chief Executive's Office in Admiralty, where they rallied to urge Leung Chun-ying to uphold free speech.

Among those marching were former civil service chief Joseph Wong Wing-ping, former legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, Foreign Correspondents' Club representatives, and survivors of the Manila hostage shootings and Lamma Island ferry disaster.

"Without freedom of speech, victims like us would have no means to fight for justice," a woman whose son died in the ferry tragedy said on stage.

Emmanuel Cheng, who emigrated to Toronto in 1971, said the situation in his old hometown had greatly deteriorated. "I don't want to see Hong Kong turning into Shenzhen," he said.

Meanwhile, 80 people attended a forum organised by the Council on Media Conduct Supervision - formed by three pro-government groups - to "explore the conduct of Hong Kong media".

Leticia Lee See-yin, convenor of Justice Alliance, denied the forum at the piazza of the government headquarters was organised to counter the main rally.

A government spokesman said it "would not and could not interfere with" editorial freedom and free speech.


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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
Why? What would be biased about free speech?
I'd tend to avoid any reporter or media organisation or government that supported the absence of it. That would be rather more biased don't you think? Or maybe you are right. We probably DO need to know which reporters do NOT support press freedom.
Oh, and how would those reporters report on it without attending it? Wait for the memo from Beijing?
Would you also like all public figures to announce whether they voted DAB or Democrat too?
Dai Muff
HK police counting is becoming an international laughing stock.
I don't think Hong Kong has any press freedom or speech freedom at this moment. As long as we voice out any opinion different from the pan-democrat, it will be labelled as "anti-democracy", "pro-china", "pro-CY" irrespective of the content and logic and you will be pressed to keep your mouth shut and keep silent.
well. you got the point.
then someone will accuse you as 50 cents soon. oh, i will be accused, too
They marched not for press freedom
but for their employment
protection for anachronism, naivety
and indulgence in casuistries
Press freedom is for press employees and employers
Press employers and employees have equal rights to dismiss each other
Freedom of expression is widely available free in the internet
As the catchphrase goes “EVERYONE’S A JOURNALIST”
Journalists can always spill more than their hearts could hold
but they have no right to a corning ware rice bowl
insisting that readers must pay for their “gem” or rubbish
Dismissed press employees who claim to enjoy mass support
should see if such hocus pocus might be as good as five loaves and three fish
Independent counting by HKU and others has consistently shown the police figures to be more accurate. The protestors usually inflate the numbers. This is particularly disturbing when it involves journalists, who should be checking their facts before speaking.
I do not know of the background of these protests and I haven't yet read any of these journalists' papers. What I do know is that there are plenty of vacuous freaks in this industry who are no better than criminals who propagandise and proselytize rubbish for political and economical reasons. There is nothing more detrimental to society than having "educated" but unintelligent head cases to direct public conversations.
To avoid posting misleading, biased or undisclosed conflict of interest when reporters/commentators do their reports in the future, it will be helpful that our reporters state: “I did (or did not) attended the "Free Speech, Free Hong Kong" protest was organized by the Hong Kong Journalists Association on 24 Feb, 2014.
The vested interest of the Fourth Estate is to maintain the monopolistic status quo in manufactured consent. Educated consumers, as well as respectable journalists, must now distance themselves from yellow journalists' claim about Hong Kong's violation of press freedom.
What is freedom? It's a state of mind. Most HKers feel free as long as they can bring home the bacon even though they can't criticize their boss. Living in the real world, except for sociopaths, most people realize abrasive behavior is not the way to get things done.
However, Alpais Lam, Li Wei Ling and other 40 something never feel free despite their unlimited latitude to lie about the government and fellow citizens even to the point of constantly hurling falsehoods and obscenities at anyone who disagrees with them.
John Milton puts it best about this human condition: "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
How can the 'silent majority' voice their preference for some peace in our city's streets? Can we have a Hyde Park Speakers Corner or Corners for organisations and individuals to voice their dissatisfaction about anything? Then the rest of us who are the majority can go about our lives if we did not wish to take part. Fair?



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