My Take

It seems the rules are different for Apple Daily

Many are quick to cry censorship if a media owner criticises his staff, but not, it appears, when the owner is Jimmy Lai

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 1:57am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 1:57am

In this day and age in Hong Kong, if the owner of a media outlet openly castigates his editorial staff for airing the opinions of someone he finds objectionable, pan-democratic groups like the Civic Party and the Journalists Association would be jumping up and down, shouting about editorial interference and censorship.

But not if it’s by one of their own, especially if that person happens to be a sugar-daddy who has secretly funded so many pan-democratic political parties over so many years.

Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, the pernicious boss of Next Media and Apple Daily, has openly criticised his fruity editors for running commentaries by retired teacher and pro-democracy activist James Hon Lin-shan. Without a shred of evidence, Lai has accused, in his own newspaper, Hon and chief executive hopeful Woo Kwok-hing of being secret agents of Beijing. The accusations are absurd, the outcome of paranoia among some radical groups who think Woo is being fielded as a candidate in the election to steal votes from John Tsang Chun-wah, their favoured candidate. It’s called “vote-snatching”, which for some pan-dems seems to mean no other candidates should run other than the ones they support.

Lai has also criticised fellow activists “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Benny Tai Yiu-ting for being politically naive. No doubt Lai is the only one who knows what he is doing.

I have no idea why so many pan-dems are fixated on Tsang. It’s probably only because Beijing doesn’t seem to want him as chief executive. But whatever Tsang is, he is not a pan-democrat.

Woo had an unimpeachable career as a high court judge, and was the head of numerous high-profile public commissions and inquiries, including those into the deadly Garley building fire and academic freedom. You can question his leadership ability, but not his integrity.

As for Hon, he has been a member of the pro-democracy Professional Teachers’ Union and taken part in every mass protest since the furore over national education in 2012. I can’t think of an activist more ideologically aligned with the editorial line of Apple Daily, at least until the boss has said otherwise.

So where’s the outrage? Where are our freedom lovers, the usual suspects who cry censorship and press oppression at the drop of a hat? Oh wait, it’s Lai and Apple, and they always get a free pass.