Cartoonists draw attention to press freedom at FCC exhibition

Artists showcase their political cartoons amid growing fears of media suppression in the city

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 4:06am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 5:45pm

Local newspaper and internet cartoonists are using their talents to highlight the importance of freedom of speech and the press.

And some of the 26 artists, whose works are on display in an exhibition at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, have expressed concern about the diminishing space for their craft in the media.

The exhibition, "Draw the Line" - the latest in the club's series of displays on the wall of its main bar - is on show for a month. Among the contributors are South China Morning Post political cartoonist Harry Harrison and Zunzi, who draws for Apple Daily and Ming Pao.

"The trend over the past decade has been worrying - fewer publications are maintaining a regular space for political cartoons," Zunzi said.

The show has opened amid growing fears over suppression against the city's media - fuelled by the brutal attack on former Ming Pao editor-in-chief Kevin Lau Chun-to in February.

Another exhibitor, who uses the pen name of Emu, said he had faced censorship since Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

"There has been an apparent deterioration of creative freedom since the handover," said Emu, who has a column in the Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal.

"I have encountered censorship, but I will not reveal details - because I am just drawing for one newspaper."

His satirical piece in the exhibition depicts the close relationship between media bosses and the Beijing leadership.

Harrison, the Post's cartoonist for 13 years, contributed a drawing of a businessman, represented by a fat cat in a suit, with a panda, representing Beijing, sitting on its shoulders, looming over a tiny journalist.

Another contributor, Gavin Coates, who formerly drew for The Standard, said cartoons were a powerful means of expression.

"It is a shame if there is a decline [in the number of political cartoons]," said Coates, who added that he lost the space after the English daily became a free paper in 2007.