With pro-Beijing media setting Hong Kong’s red lines, Carrie Lam’s policy address offers little hope
- The chief executive has said the blue cover of her policy address represents hope and that the national security law will not curb freedoms in Hong Kong. However, a manufacturer’s decision to suspend its business after pro-Beijing media accused it of violating the new law indicates it is having a chilling effect
So now we know. Think twice before you exercise free speech as defined by law and international conventions. Media acting as Beijing’s mouthpiece have their own definition of free speech. Cross their red line and you’re done for.
Hongkongers must now view the word “could” in a new light. Whatever you do “could” violate the security law. Pro-Beijing media said Yellow Factory’s logo resembled a protester wearing a yellow helmet and goggles.
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I wonder if I “could” be violating the law if I said I take my yellow helmet off to Yellow Factory for its innovative ideas to promote its business. I don’t have a yellow helmet but rather a black safety helmet, which I used as a journalist during last year’s protests, that “resembles” it.
Instead, Yellow Factory suspended its business to protect its staff, saying it did not want to violate the security law and will adjust its business. To me, that proves national security law critics’ claims of a chilling effect. What if a shop that sells yellow helmets and safety goggles to construction workers has a sign showing a worker wearing them? Could that be violating the law too?
Two days ago, I saw an elderly man carrying his grandson in the lift of the building where I live. The man wore a black T-shirt that said “freedom”. Could that violate the security law? What if I wore a face mask with an American flag or used the US national anthem as my ringtone? Would I be violating the law if my phone rang while riding the MTR?
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Many Hongkongers now see Lam as Beijing’s envoy to Hong Kong rather than a leader who fights for them. Lam told the media the blue cover of her policy speech represented hope. People buy hope only when it comes from a person who has earned their respect.
Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong journalist and TV show host