According to a friend of a friend of a friend, Chief Executive Carrie Lam recently hosted a casual, off-the-record gathering for selected members of the press. At one stage, an executive from TVB angrily banged the table and told Carrie that his organization would boycott government press conferences if her administration accredited and admitted online media. She asked him to inform his boss that it would be fine with her if TVB didn’t come to press conferences.
The government’s ‘official’ lame reason for barring on-line media from briefings is that dangerous radicals could pose as amateur non-profit reporters and disrupt the proceedings with protests and stunts. A more credible lame reason would be that the government simply wants to protect the establishment cronies who now own most of Hong Kong’s mainstream press – just as it outlaws Uber to help Beijing loyalist taxi-licence owners.
Then there is a serious, non-lame reason: the unpopular and incompetent government wishes to avoid scrutiny by independent media who might ask awkward questions.
Lurking in the background here we have Beijing’s string-pullers in the Liaison Office. If the government does recognize digital media, it will because the Mainland officials aren’t too fussed about who gets a namby-pamby press-pass. The way they are arranging things in Hong Kong, it seems only a matter of time before we start to get top-down censorship (on ‘anti-sedition’ or other legal pretexts).
One other obvious reason the government seems to be inching towards recognizing digital news outlets is that eventually there won’t be any other sort. TVB opposes change because it wants to protect its web-based platform – not its old on-air broadcast channel – from competition.
Meanwhile, independent voices seem to be vanishing from local English-language media. The South China Morning Post has apparently disposed of Shirley Yam for covering Beijing elites’ stashes of wealth, and Jake Van Der Kamp has been silent for three weeks since a column that mentioned the collapse of the Communist regime (and has no link on the his page at the paper).
All this is a long way of getting round to declaring the weekend open – with a plug for Hong Kong Free Press’s appeal for a new home…
Jake’s article is still there tucked away at the bottom of his page.
I feel so special to see this VPN hiccup considering the route shouldn’t include GFW traffic …
“Your domain name has not been obtained by the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of the record number, in accordance with the Ministry of Industry and Information Order No. 33 shield access. Please apply for the Ministry of Industry website for the record, to obtain the site record number to resume access.”
Local press (Ming Pao and Apple) reported early this week that JVDK “put down his pen” and went back to Jianada.
@Dermot: then that is officially the end of the South China Morning Post, after more than 100 years of publishing. It is now, literally, a waste of trees.
Come on…who here doesn’t look forward to anything written by a “Tammy Tam”??
@Donny – does anyone still buy the paper version?
Is Tammy Tam by any chance related to Tim Tam. If so, what is her flavor ? And: is she tasty ?
Tammy Tam is now officially a banned word in the SCMP comments and so is the word feminist.
@Old and new: my gym still has a paper copy. I pinch a few sheets every week because my hamster swears that its absorption and chewiness are superior.
Btw, Jake was in print today, on the same page as Regina, who, for once, wasn’t foaming around the mouth about this and that, but presented an almost balanced point of view (the students and independence thing) but not without a carefully crafted dig at 777.
Does anyone know the SCMP’s list of excuses for not allowing comments?
For instance, Shirley Lam’s Money Matters column (often critical of matters CCP) almost always has them. But her ‘Regulators’ silence on Communist Party presence in listed state companies is deafening’ does not.