The former editor of a Hong Kong newspaper who was brutally attacked yesterday is now in stable condition.
Police are investigating the stabbing of Kevin Lau Chun-to and have recovered a stolen motorcycle they suspect was used by one of the attackers. The newspaper Ming Pao, where Lau worked, has offered a $128,000 reward for information leading to the attack.
Francis Moriarty of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the case and media freedom in the semi-autonomous territory.
On who may have carried out the attack on Lau
“It’s very difficult to say who did this. The people who carry this out, the actual people who do the assault, they’re hired people. The police have already said what everyone already knew, that this is a classic hit done by triads. Triads are underworld gangs, and they can be hired by anyone for any reason if you know how to do that sort of thing. So who’s behind it, we don’t know. And to be honest, I’m not sure that it does anybody any good to guess.”
On the special role of Hong Kong reporters in covering China
“This tiny little sliver of China has a very special status. Because of its former colonial position and the basic law, its mini-constitution, which governs it and promises that people here will have certain freedoms, and among them are freedom of expression and freedom of the press. So reporters here have a somewhat privileged position relative to other reporters in China. If they get in trouble in China, they can usually come back to Hong Kong. They can report a little more freely inside China. If they get tossed out, they simply get tossed out and that’s the end of it, whereas if you are a mainland reporter and you are in trouble, then you are in serious trouble, because you have nowhere else you can flee to, no one else who will protect you and stand up for you. So Hong Kong reporters have had a very special position, and a lot of information comes out of Hong Kong still. It has even since the days of the Cultural Revolution. This has been a place where you get news about China you don’t get elsewhere.”
On struggles and dangers for Hong Kong journalists
“We do have to fight, and that’s why three days before Kevin Lau was brutally attacked, there was a march in Hong Kong where more than 6,000 journalists concerned about press freedom marched through the streets to show their concern that the oxygen is slowly being sucked out of the room. And beyond that sense of pressure, there have been many cases of journalists who have been, in the course of their work, manhandled by protesters or anti-protesters, who’ve been thrown to the ground, who’ve had their equipment broken, who’ve been trying to take pictures and thrown to the ground and kicked by individuals. And in many cases, no prosecution has followed. This is something that really disturbs people.”