Category Archives : News: Full Lowdown


POLITICS – Full Lowdown: 2 New Reports Slam Hong Kong Media Self-Censorship

Hong Kong enjoys a unique position in China with rule of law and freedom of speech enshrined in its mini-constitution. Media outlets based in the city therefore have an unrepresented opportunity to be Beijing’s ‘watchdogs’ and fulfil a role that would be impossible behind the Great Chinese Firewall where civil liberties are restricted. However, it appears that Hong Kong’s press have settled into a role of Beijing’s ‘lapdogs’ as opposed to ‘watchdogs’, with multiple reports lamenting the city’s declining journalistic freedom.

via AFP/Getty

Today, Hong Kong fell three places in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. We are now 61st – behind Burkina Faso, Moldova and Haiti.  Also today, a scathing new analysis of Hong Kong’s ‘cancerous’ plague of self-censorship was published by the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York. As well as detailing physical attacks on journalists, it reveals how more than half of the city’s media owners have now accepted appointments to Beijing’s main political assemblies.

cpj.org/2014/02/attacks-on-the-press-hong-kong-analysis.php

The CPJ states that media freedom is now at a “low point” with a 2013 HKU study showing that more than half of the public now believe the press self-censors.


POLITICS – Full Lowdown: Time Hong Kong Moved On from Manila Bus Crisis 50

The Hong Kong journalists removed from Indonesia’s APEC summit elicited little sympathy from netizens this week. HK radio and TV crews had their press passes revoked and were briefly detained by Bali Police after hollering questions about the Manila Bus Crisis at Benigno Aquino, president of the Philippines. Whilst this blog believes world leaders often deserve a good heckling, the reporters in question were accused of adopting an ‘activist’ approach by aggressively shouting irrelevant questions…

Some online commenters saw their actions as irresponsible and their eviction from the premises somewhat deserved, if not a little extreme. NOW TV, however, stated their reporters were “only engaged in normal reporting duties.” This is in-keeping with the competitive behaviour of tabloid journalists back in HK, where it is ‘normal’ to accost public figures, trigger scuffles with sharpened elbows or harass victims.


ACTIVISM – Full Lowdown & Photos: Hong Kong’s July 1st 2013 Pro-Democracy Protests 14

Today, thousands of Hong Kongers hit the streets demanding full democracy in an annual protest against the local and national governments.

Demonstrators assembled in Victoria Park at 2:30pm and, in spite of ‘T3’ tropical storm warnings and intense heat, marched down Yee Wo Street to Hennessy Road and on to Statue Square in Central.

Icarus Wong Ho-ying of the organising body, the Civil Human Rights Front, told the SCMP that “the lives of Hongkongers have been getting worse, with an obvious example being the wide poverty gap.”


POLITICS – Full Lowdown: US Whistleblower Edward Snowden Seeks Refuge in Free Speech HK 5

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Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald’s source for the American NSA (National Security Agency) whistle blower story, has been taking refuge in Hong Kong. Snowden chose HK as “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”. In an interview with The Guardian columnist below, he stated that…

“Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech. People think ‘China; great firewall’. Mainland China does have significant restrictions on free speech but the people of Hong Kong have a long tradition of protesting in the streets, making their views known, their internet is not filtered here. No more so than any other western government. And I believe that the Hong Kong government is actually independent in relation to a lot of other western governments.”


POLITICS – Full Lowdown: Battle of the Bullshit – Falun Gong Edition 8

For many years, displaced and local members of the Falun Gong have attempted to get their message across to mainland visitors at key tourist sites around the city. Whilst some of their claims are said to be exaggerated, the suppression of their movement and persecution of those who practice the spiritual discipline is very much real.

In fact, Beijing has an extra-constitutional body dedicated to the “eradication” of the group, via extra-judicial sentencing, coercive ‘re-education’ and torture. The New York Times reported that 2,000 Falun Gong adherents have been tortured to death since the persecution campaign began in 1999. Today, the Falun Gong diaspora sport their own newspaper and TV channel, having established themselves as one of the main voices of opposition to China’s one-party rule…

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Recently, fellow HK blogger BadCanto reported on a sudden spate of anti-Falun Gong banners featuring crude slogans normally seen north the border. The banners are so prolific in Yau Tsim Mong district that it sparked a debate regarding the line between free speech and littering. Slogans spotted in Kowloon, Tung Chung, Yuen Long and Causeway Bay include:


POLITICS – Full Lowdown: Election Aftermath. Protests Continue, Albert Ho Quits & Racist Candidate Loses 4

Click here and here for the full lowdown on the Scholarism anti-National Education protests. Scholarism’s latest statement is at the bottom of this page.

As the international news misreported CY Leung’s supposed ‘withdrawal’ of HK’s National Education farce, Hong Kongers went to the polls in record numbers (a 53% turnout) after months of protest.

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A class boycott planned for tomorrow will go ahead, it was announced today. Their Facebook events invites protesters to gather once more at 2pm. With a handful of schools already implementing the ‘patriotism classes’ (and those funded by the University Grants Committee or under the School-based Management Programme exempt from ‘opting out’), there was no sign of the programme actually being cancelled. Only the 2015 deadline for implementation was shelved in Leung’s last-minute announcement on the eve of Sunday’s election.


POLITICS – Full Lowdown: Small Victory for Scholarism as 170,000+ Protest National Education 7

Last night (Friday), organisers estimated that 170,000+ people surrounded LEGCO – police put the figure at 36,000. For the full lowdown explaining the demonstrations, click here. Latest:

  • CY Leung, Carrie Lam and Anna Wu called a press conference and announced today (Saturday) that the government will give schools full autonomy on whether to introduce National Education. Originally, schools had to implement the programme by 2015 – the deadline has now been scrapped as he asked for protests, boycotts and hunger strikes to end. He claimed the instructions came directly from Beijing and that he will also re-examine curriculum guidelines.

Yesterday, hunger strikers hit 140 hours, ATV were welcomed with protest signs and banners and Tamar Park, LEGCO and Connaught Rd were packed…

Kin Cheung, AP

Kin Cheung, AP


POLITICS – Full Lowdown on HK’s National Education Protests 8

The summer’s protests against government plans for patriotic ‘National Education’ come amidst a perfect storm of anti-China sentiment ahead of the 2012 Legislative Council Election on September 9th. Suspicion of Beijing and disdain for new leader CY Leung are both at an all-time high. Earlier this year we saw a record turnout at the annual 6/4 rally, housing scandals, dozens of ‘anti-locust’ and mainland mother protests and widespread anger against the crackdown on Chinese dissidents. It appears the new Chief Executive has forgotten what became of Tung Chee Hwa, who lost all imperative to rule following similar large-scale protests and property scandals in 2003.

Art by Siukit Suen

Art by Siukit Suen

The new ‘Moral and National Education’ subject was set to be implemented in primary schools this week with secondary schools following next year. There are concerns that it paints a glossy picture of the Communist Party whilst ignoring important historical events such as the Tiananmen crackdown (which, emotionally and politically, is to Hong Kongers what 9/11 is to the Americans.) The SCMP reported that “In a school teaching guide for primary two pupils, teachers are instructed to ask students to say loudly, “I am happy to be a Chinese” if they agree.”


BLOG – Full Lowdown of Handover Weekend: Protest Minimised, Reporter Removed 15

With discontent at a 15-year high, up to 400,000 people hit the streets for the annual pro-democracy rally. Jacky Lim, 37, was amongst many protesters carrying the old British colonial flag, “There is nothing worth celebrating today. Hong Kong is being gradually destroyed by the Communist Party”, he said.

> For my own snapshot of HK politics today, click here & here’s a quick appearance on TVB.

via AP

via AP

The International Herald Tribune observed that millionaire property consultant CY Leung’s inauguration was conducted without a word of Cantonese being spoken. This is a departure from the 2007 ceremony when Donald Tsang gave his inaugural speech in the local dialect as opposed to Putongua.

Without a hint of irony, Hu spoke of the importance of “opposing interference by external forces in Hong Kong affairs”.


POLITICS – Full Lowdown of HK Political Shit-storm Ahead of July 1st 4

Below is a piece adapted from an article I wrote for foreign audiences. There is a deeper analysis of HK after Handover over at National Geographic. 

Two defining features of present-day Hong Kong are destined to dampen this Sunday’s celebrations as the city marks 15 years since its handover to China. Despite coming tops as the world’s freest economy with the rule of law and civil liberties relatively preserved under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ agreement, the ex-British colony is plagued with political turmoil and is now home to one of the widest poverty gaps in the developed world.

Preparations for the weekend's "celebrations".

Preparations for the weekend’s “celebrations”.