Radio commentator's murder dragged up in sponsorship row

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 May, 2010, 12:00am

The row over political sponsorship of radio broadcasts has escalated, with the leading Beijing-friendly party denying leftists were responsible for the death of political commentator Lam Bun in the 1967 riots.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong says the media has reacted unfairly to news of its sponsorship deal with Commercial Radio.

Some commentators and pan-democrats have called the DAB's purchase of about 72 hours of air time an unhealthy political development - and disrespectful to the legacy of Lam Bun, an icon of free speech who was believed to have been murdered because of critical comments of the 1967 leftist rioters he made on Commercial Radio.

DAB lawmaker Chan Kam-lam yesterday urged the public not to scratch at old wounds.

'During the '67 riots, it was not just Lam Bun who died. There were very many ordinary citizens who, we don't know for what reason, died ... If we want to seek responsibility, how do we seek responsibility for that?'

He said leftists should not be blamed for Lam Bun's death.

'I don't know [who killed him], I have not investigated, and I was still young then. But you shouldn't take one person, and use it to represent the whole event [as to] who should take responsibility, or which group should take responsibility ... that's very unfair to the leftists,' Chan said.

Lam's stance led to some left-wing newspapers calling him an anti-China spy. In August 1967 his car was stopped and set alight, killing him and a cousin. According to reports at the time, a leftist combat group claimed responsibility.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, DAB lawmaker Wong Ting-kwong also said leftists should not be held responsible.

Unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said the DAB was once again trying to rewrite history and were obviously smarting at people who focused on its 'inglorious past'.

'Everyone knows that Lam Bun was critical of leftists and was then killed. Of course, we have not seen evidence of who killed him, but if they can be so sure to say they were not responsible, does that mean they know who did it, and it wasn't a leftist?' Lee said.

'They just don't like people throwing salt over wounds. They would rather people not talk about their inglorious past.'

Chan said Wong's reaction was due to the unfair stance of the media in the whole controversy, pointing out that Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing had not been criticised for buying air time for a political advertisement.

'We cannot accept it any longer,' Chan said. 'Free expression should be exercised fairly.'