Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Fighting for Press Freedom

Apple Daily has an axe to grind -- that is aimed at Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Hong Kong Police Force.

That's because one of its reporters, Rex Hon Yiu-ting, was hauled away by police to a stairwell and questioned for 15 minutes after he shouted a question at Chinese President Hu Jintao asking him to tell the truth about the June 4 crackdown.

At the time the police claimed reporters were not allowed to shout questions and said Hon had broken the rules.

But it seems the police have looked over the incident again and now say the police inspector's error of judgment resulted in Hon being detained.

This was the explanation police director of operations Paul Hung Hak-wai gave to Mak Tin-ying, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

However she was skeptical of the reason.

"I doubt that the inspector, a mid-ranking officer in the uniformed services, would request his officers, without receiving any order, to take away a reporter just because he shouted the question too loudly," she said.

Mak added there were no instructions for officers to censor politically sensitive questions as they did not pose a security risk.

So why then, did this officer detain Hon for no good reason then?

Obviously the police were very jumpy that day and wanted to prevent any kind of awkward situations.

But now they've put themselves in hot water -- to save Hu from having to answer an embarrassing question.

Was it worth it in the end?

Meanwhile Apple Daily's chief editor Cheung Kim-hung has confirmed the paper will file a civil lawsuit for illegal detention against police chief Andy Tsang Wai-hung in the next few days.

While it is obvious the paper is challenging Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to be accountable for his actions, Apple Daily also tested journalistic freedoms by posing the question about Tiananmen Square at Hu.

And if we can't ask sensitive questions on Hong Kong soil, then can we still justify calling ourselves "Asia's World City"?

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