Climate of fear on Sina Weibo over attack on Kevin Lau Chun-to

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 3:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 3:46am

The attack that left former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to with a punctured lung cast a shadow of fear over Sina Weibo's outspoken microbloggers, who expressed their concern about declining press freedom in Hong Kong.

Phoenix TV reporter Rose Luqiu Luwei, who has three million followers on the microblogging service, posted a statement by the Journalists Association saying the attack was "a serious provocation against the freedom of press and expression in Hong Kong".

Luqiu's post was shared more than 1,000 times and received 270 comments within just two hours. Several popular microbloggers, including senior Sina figure Chen Tong, film director Jia Zhangke and Beijing-based lawyer Hao Jinsong, also reposted it.

Taiwanese commentator Chang Tieh-chi, whose weibo account has more than 183,000 followers, wrote: "I shed tears for Hong Kong after hearing Lau's news … We are surrounded by a dark fog that we cannot control. But we have to shed light."

Former Phoenix TV political commentator Yang Jinlin expressed concern over escalating violence against journalists in the city. On his microblog, he listed five attacks against high-ranking staff in Hong Kong media groups since June last year.

"None of these cases has yet been solved," he wrote.

But some microbloggers also questioned whether some in the media have jumped to conclusions.

"The Journalists Association is announcing the verdict first, and then looking for proof," Shenzhen microblogger Fengyan2012 wrote.

"Has anyone found out why the two people stabbed Lau? Did they stab him while chanting 'no press freedom'?" asked Yueyue, another microblogger.


Wide concern

Hong Kong Journalists Association vice-chairwoman Shirley Yam

"I've known Kevin since the 1980s. I can't think of any personal reason why he got attacked, knowing his family background and his character. I would be shocked if he was attacked for a personal reason."

New People's Party lawmaker and Executive Council member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee

"Kevin's wife called me ... She said Kevin was chopped and the injuries were so serious that his organs could be seen."

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying

"We strongly condemn this savage act. Hong Kong is a lawful society and we will not tolerate violence."

Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong

"Hongkongers will inevitably worry about press freedom as Kevin Lau is a widely known journalist. We are highly concerned about the attack and hope that the police will not leave the case unresolved."

Ming Pao staff concern group member Sin Wan-kei

"The police are responsible for investigating the truth … Journalists should not have to work in fear."

US consul general for Hong Kong and Macau Clifford Hart

"The US Consulate General is deeply concerned about the assault today on the journalist Kevin Lau. We welcome the Hong Kong government's condemnation of this vicious crime and commitment to conduct a thorough investigation"

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong

"The Club reiterates its view that the growing number of attacks against members of the press in Hong Kong needs to be taken seriously by the local administration. Hong Kong's reputation as a free and international city will suffer if such crimes go unsolved."

Newspaper Society of Hong Kong

"Whether or not the incident has anything to do with free speech, this act of violence is unacceptable."

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong

"Hong Kong is known as a safe city. Such violent acts cannot be tolerated."