‘852 Post’ announced today that videos published previously are all off the internet following security concerns; ‘Winandmac Media’ also retreated from Hong Kong and cancelling business registration of Hong Kong. HKJA is extremely concerned about deleting reports and commentaries, or even leaving Hong Kong altogether, out of safety reasons, as it indicates that ‘white terror’ is everywhere. HKJA believes the phenomenon is largely down to lack of clarity from law enforcement, leading to unease among media, entirely destroying the supervisory role of the Fourth Estate.
Following the closure of ‘Apple Daily’, self-censorship in the media has manifested rapidly and strongly. From ‘Stand News’ deleting their blogger a few days earlier, to the decision of ‘852 Post’ and ‘Winandmac Media’, it reflects press concerns over the possibility of literary inquisition, and their hugely shaken belief in the Government and law enforcement’s commitment to protecting press freedom.
Public Affairs Commentators are also deeply worried following the detention of two former editorial writers of ‘Apple Daily, Yeung Ching-Kee and Fung Wai-Kwong.
HKJA observes that government officials in the past proposed that ‘freedom of speech is not absolute’. HKJA urges the Government and officials to define the boundaries of their definition of freedom of speech when making this kind of statements, and avoid using only the intention of journalists to determine whether their behavior breaks the law.
If the same behavior is only deemed as law-breaking due to subjectively defined ‘intentions’, such standard will not be recognized by the press industry, and Hong Kong will no longer be the place that accepted diverse voices.
HKJA reiterates that freedom of speech is pivotal to a civilized society, with freedom of the press forming part of it. Constant erosion of freedom of speech will bring Hong Kong further away from being a civilized city.
HKJA would also like Hong Kong citizens to understand that the prosperity and financial success of Hong Kong is largely built upon international trust in Hong Kong’s ability to protect freedom and supervise those with power. Those who hope for continuous prosperity and commercial growth should expect intact freedom of speech and a healthy press industry in Hong Kong.
HKJA would like to call for unity among colleagues under such hardship, to bond together to fearless defends freedom of the press. Colleagues who face any difficulties are welcome to contact HKJA.
Hong Kong Journalist Association
28 June 2021