Carrie Lam to work with Beijing on ways to stop mainland Chinese security forces attacking Hong Kong journalists
City’s leader again fails to criticise police for assaulting reporter, but reiterates belief that freedom of the press should be respected
Hong Kong’s leader on Wednesday said the government would work with Beijing to try and prevent reporters from being assaulted by police and security forces on the mainland.
But Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor again failed to criticise the actions of officers who beat a Hong Kong journalist bloody while arresting him as he covered a hearing involving a human rights lawyer last week.
Responding to a question from Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu, Lam said authorities in Beijing had operated within the law, but reiterated her belief that it was important for both sides to show mutual respect.
The physical altercation, involving Now TV journalist Chui Chun-ming, came just four days after another reporter, Chan Ho-fai of i-Cable News, was attacked by two men while covering the 10th anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake.
At the Legislative Council’s question and answer session on Wednesday morning, Kwong asked the chief executive why she had not condemned the police, and pointed to a statement from the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) which noted her “nonchalant response” to the incident.
“Do you think that criticism is fair?” Kwong asked.
Lam said she would leave it to the public to judge, and that she was used to being criticised by different groups of people every day.
“The freedoms of the Hong Kong media reporting according to the law should be respected, and the personal safety [of reporters] should be safeguarded,” Lam said.
The government was concerned about the issue, she added, and would follow up with the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office “to study any better ways to liaise and prevent recurrence of similar incidents”.
But Kwong was unsatisfied with the answer, arguing that as chief executive Lam should have stood up for the dignity of the city’s reporters and condemned the mainland officers.
Meanwhile, Kwong’s party colleague, Helena Wong Pik-wan, raised concerns about Macau’s immigration controls, saying lawmakers, scholars and reporters had all been stopped from entering the former Portuguese enclave.
Wong questioned whether the refusals would jeopardise the development of the “Greater Bay Area” – the integration plan between Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities.
“We have to respect the immigration policy of a place … If [some cases are] unreasonable, we will express our concerns, though whether it is reasonable or not depends on the policy,” Lam said.
She would pass on Wong’s opinions to Macau officials, she added, and tell them that Hong Kong lawmakers are not really “radicals”.
Lam told Wong: “I may have already said so, but you just do not know.”
The HKJA on Wednesday evening noted in a statement its “deep regrets” over Lam’s failure to criticise officers’ violent actions.
“Carrie Lam has apparently failed to fulfil her responsibility in safeguarding press freedom,” the statement read. It reiterated the group’s demand that mainland authorities explain the legal grounds for handcuffing and detaining the reporter, and urged officials to follow up on the issue.