• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 9:50am
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 3:46am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 3:46am

'Media-silencing campaign' theory is a slippery slope


Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.

'Media-silencing campaign' theory is a slippery slope

What should we make of the savage attack on former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to? Was it an assault on media freedom? That would be a reasonable assumption since the assailants specifically targeted a senior journalist who had overseen numerous investigative reports that would have made many powerful people squirm. But was it part of a massive campaign to silence the media as some have alleged?

Here, we enter slippery terrain. A campaign is a series of planned actions aimed at achieving a desired result. It is not an isolated or random act.

Those who say the knifing of Lau was part of a massive campaign to silence the media have pointed to Lau's removal as Ming Pao chief editor; Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling's sacking; and the alleged decision by some businesses to stop advertising in certain newspapers. Li Wei-ling had alleged that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying orchestrated her ouster. Newspapers that claimed adverts had been pulled accused mainland organisations of doing it to put pressure on them.

If all four occurrences are really linked, as we must presume in order to believe that there is indeed a silencing campaign, then the finger points to the chief executive and the central government. That puts us in territory worse than the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. Richard Nixon, the then president of the United States, was part of a White House cover-up of the bugging of the Democratic Party headquarters.

But if a silencing campaign is to be believed, then we are talking about our chief executive and the central government arranging a triad hit on a journalist. Fact or fiction? Those whose political interests are served by saying that a massive muzzling campaign is under way want us to believe it is fact. But Public Eye never believes anything unless it is backed up by facts. And most Hongkongers are smart enough to think that way too.


Our policymakers must have got their sums wrong

Let's do the maths. By 2017, we will have 70 million visitors a year. By 2023, the number will almost double from last year's 54 million to 100 million, mostly from the mainland. Upgrades covering all of our most congested MTR lines - Island, Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan and Tseung Kwan O - can only be completed by 2022 and can only increase capacity by 10 per cent.

So we are talking about a 10 per cent increase in rail capacity to handle a 100 per cent increase in visitor numbers. But our policymakers want even more tourists to come here.

As our Commerce Secretary Greg So Kam-leung advised, if you can't squeeze onto one train, you can always wait for the next one.

Policymakers, of course, don't have to do that. Their chauffeur-driven cars are always at the ready to whisk them from home to the office to long lunches to boozy dinners and then back home.


Will the real mouthpiece please stand up?

Have the mouthpieces confused their message? First, the Global Times, supposedly a mainland government mouthpiece, mocked Hongkongers for wanting to limit the number of mainland visitors to the city.

It said animosity towards the visitors exposed an inferiority complex - which had made locals mentally unbalanced - because mainlanders had become rich.

But now the People's Daily, supposedly also a mouthpiece, says Hong Kong should impose a quota on mainland visitors because our tourist facilities are already overstretched.

So which is the real mouthpiece?


Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. mickchug@gmail.com



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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
It does not have to be a single point campaign to be a state of reality or a threat.
As I wrote before
1967 Lam Bun murdered.
1993 Next Media office at Quarry Bay vandalised. Giordano criminally damaged.
1993 Firebomb hurled at Lai’s home.
1996 Leung Tin-wai attacked.
1998 Apple Daily's Cheng Sha Wan office gets a threat by fax and a fake bomb.
1998 Black paint thrown at three Next media print ad. sales offices
1998 Commercial Radio host Albert Cheng chopped
2004 Wong Yuk-man assaulted by six men in Tsim Sha Tsui,
2008 Jimmy Lai’s home set on fire after someone hurled a fire bomb
2008 Attempt to kill Jimmy Lai and Martin Lee
2012 Online news website Inmediahk computers smashed
2012 A car drives into into the plate glass windows of the Sing Tao News Corporation headquarters, the car was later found burned.
2012 Three men attacked a Sing Tao outlet in Tsim Sha and smashed its windows
2013 iSun Affairs Magazine publisher Chen Ping was beaten up
2013 Ramraiders left a knife and axe on the driveway of Jimmy Lai’s house, after driving into his gate.
2013 Two men burned copies of Apple Daily on a delivery truck. A chopper was found in front of the newspaper’s office at Tseung Kwan O. More copies were burned near City Hall
Also, am730 founder Shih Wing-ching attacked
2013 September - DIstributor of Apple Attacked
Now give me an equal list of attacks on those supportive of Beijing.
Dai Muff
As we've seen, no one involved with ATV need fear clampdowns on press freedom.
You forgot to mention HKTV. What kind of facts do you need ? Tapes or written documents leading to the mastermind ? It is obvious all those actions are politically motivated and that they have needed a good deal of organization...
It's scare Me!!! Help! Mafia everywhere! in Azie! In this Center! In Hong Kong!
If I'm been kill in HK, I will first let the whole world seen, ""THIS IS VERY VERY WRONG!!!""
(((This means don't shut u mouth, LET'S TALK!!! (with mouth, not aggressive!)))
Love Freedom of speech...
Chugani - I might say how the leopard has changed it's spots, but in your case it is not applicable as you are but a p*ssy cat. (The censor has stopped me writing the full word!!)
Many people have noted how your strong defence of press and media freedom of bygone years has morphed into attacks on those who query China's hegemony.
Heavens forbid, one might even suggest you are part of a United Front.


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