Newspaper Attacks Spur Hong Kong Press Freedom Fears

According to a new report from the Hong Kong Journalists Association, press freedom in Hong Kong has reached a new low since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took office last year. The report’s publication follows a series of attacks on the city’s Next Media group. From The Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report:

In particular, the HKJA’s report criticized Mr. Leung’s office for what authors described as an attitude of “increasing secrecy,” as well as its proposal to make it more difficult for journalists to use the Companies Ordinance to trace the identities of individual company directors. The proposal was shelved earlier this year following a storm of public criticism.

Former journalist and current legislator Claudia Mo also slammed the government Monday. “You can ask all the questions you want and you wouldn’t get anywhere,” she said of the current administration, citing in particular the administration’s reluctance to give details on how it intends to proceed with hoped-for plans for universal suffrage in 2017. “The government spokesmen will go, ‘Blah blah blah,’ and after four paragraphs it practically just amounts to a ‘No comment,’” she said.

“It’s absolutely bad, on top of the existing problem of self-censorship,” Ms. Mo said. Previous polls by HKJA have found that more than one-third of journalists say they either personally practice self-censorship or work with supervisors who do, owing in part to the fact that many papers in Hong Kong are owned by individuals connected to political bodies in mainland China. [Source]

Hong Kong now ranks 58th, four positions lower compared to the 2011/2012 ranking, in media watchdog Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 global press freedom index.


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