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HK Press freedoms plummet : Bao Choy's 7.21 documentary wins human rights prize

Updated: May 30, 2021

Under the Joint Declaration and other UN treaties HK people have the right to civil liberties including freedoms of speech, association, press, publication, etc.

It is the Hong Kong (HK) pro-democracy protesters who uphold UN treaties and obligations including ICCPR, Joint Declaration and its rule OF law.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and HK government are in BREACH of UN obligations including ICCPR, Joint Declaration and the rule OF law : Today communist HK only has CCP's arbitrary rule BY law as exampled by its 1 July 2020 'national security law'.

Unacceptably HK people's human rights are being drastically curtailed by the CCP and HK government.

Reality is that HK's press freedoms are currently at their lowest level yet (please read HKFP article below ) and we believe they will continue to plumment!

It is in the best interests of the world to ensure that HK is a democracy with human rights, including Press freedoms : The democratic world needs to push back hard if it wishes to continue to do business with HK and China !

Bao Choy. The Standard photo.

[Update] Bao Choy wins prestigious Harvard's 'Nieman' journalist award !

'Bao Choy's 7.21 documentary wins human rights prize'

RTHK 6 May 2021

An RTHK documentary into the Yuen Long gang rampage in July 2019 won another award on Thursday, two weeks after one of its producers, Bao Choy, was convicted over her investigative work for the programme.

There is also recognition in this year's Human Rights Press Awards for Nabela Qoser, who is being let go by the broadcaster following complaints by pro-Beijing figures.

“In a year of a pandemic lockdowns, political upheaval in Hong Kong, and protests across the region, the winning entries… showcase courage and originality of journalistic storytelling about human rights in Asia,” said the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Amnesty International Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Journalists Association, which together organise the annual awards.

Choy's documentary, "7.21 Who owns the truth?", won this year's Chinese-language documentary prize.

“Chasing the smallest clues, interrogating the powerful without fear or favour. An investigative reporting classic,” the judging panel said of the RTHK entry, which was also produced by Paul Lee, Sze-Sze Cheng, Flora Yeung, Judy Chan and Yiu-ling Wong.

Choy was fined HK$6,000 last month after a court found her guilty of making false declarations while searching for the owners of cars believed to be linked to the mob violence. She said on Wednesday that she will appeal against her conviction.

“Salute to all winners who uncover the truth, and speak out for the voiceless across the globe. There are so many stunning, heartbreaking and breathtaking stories,” Choy wrote in a tweet.

“The award is just a reminder for all of us to uphold our faith and principles.”

An entry from RTHK English News’ Joanne Wong was also awarded a merit in the Short Video (English) category.

Her report looked into how families in Hong Kong had been divided as a result of the 2019 anti-government protests, with members unable to reconcile their conflicting political views.

The government broadcaster collected five merits in addition to its win in the documentary category, with Qoser picking up two awards for videos she helped produce.

The Yuen Long documentary also took this year's Kam Yiu-yu Press Freedom Award.

However, RTHK will not be accepting any awards during a “transition period”, as a review of its operations is conducted by the new Director of Broadcasting, Patrick Li.

In March, organisers of the Human Rights Press Awards said Li had asked them to withdraw RTHK's entries "in totality", but they said they were unable to comply with his request as judging was already underway.

There will be no awards ceremony this year for the Human Rights Press Awards, because of the pandemic.

The broadcaster’s management, in a new statement, reiterated its stance on awards, adding that “intellectual property rights of Radio Television Hong Kong programmes belong to RTHK.”

RTHK photo

'Veteran Hong Kong journalist was stunned that her documentary led to her arrest'

Apple Daily 6 May 2021

While the veteran journalist Bao Choy is no stranger to run-ins with the law — she was taken away by mainland Chinese public security officers several years back for visiting human rights activists — she was stunned when the Hong Kong police showed up at her door last November to arrest her over her use of public records in a television program about the Yuen Long mob attack in 2019.

“This day has come to Hong Kong where the work of journalists can be the reason for an arrest,” the 37-year-old thought at the time.

Last month, Choy became the first journalist in Hong Kong to be found guilty of an offense related to public-records access. She had ruled out pleading guilty from the outset because doing so would mean other journalists would be barred from checking public records, she said.

The episode was a follow-up of another that had aired in 2019. Choy said she and her team looked at the attack again because some people were trying to reframe the mob attack as merely a clash between two groups of people. Even one year on, the full picture of the assault remained unclear with many questions unanswered, she said.

“People often said we only covered people dressed in black [pro-democracy protesters]. But why did white-clad people turn up at the scene? What were they doing there? Were there any masterminds behind it?” she said.

Choy, who worked at RTHK for 10 years, said her time with the public broadcaster had been happy since it gave its staff the space and resources to produce quality programs.

Apart from the July 21 attack, Choy and her team also covered the Prince Edward station incident that took place on Aug. 31, 2019, when live broadcasts captured scores of riot police storming into train compartments and using batons to beat commuters.

“Our instant thoughts were to locate the injured people. We sent people to different hospitals that evening hoping to find out where they were injured.”

As a journalism student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Choy had been inspired by RTHK’s “Hong Kong Connection” series for its reporting style and decided that documentary-making would be her career goal, she said. In 2012, she joined the series’ production team and was given a challenging first job that required her to investigate several mainland companies suspected of making false financial records.

“I never thought that this episode would lead to my arrest,” Choy told Apple Daily.

Her documentary, which was produced as an episode of RTHK’s “Hong Kong Connection,” revisits the scenes of the Yuen Long mob attack on July 21, 2019, and interviews key people one year after the assault.

All mainland companies would shut their doors if you came to check their books. We also needed to go ask for authorization to get into shareholders’ meetings,” she recalled. “When that episode was out, I was pretty happy.”

Choy also handled the bribery case involving former Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho and foreign politicians.

Click here for Chinese version.

RTHK photo

Hong Kong’s press freedom index sinks to all-time low amid security law

HKFP 3 May 2021

The Hong Kong Press Freedom Index, compiled from data gathered from local journalists, has hit a record low, the annual poll showed. Close to 99 per cent of respondents said the Beijing-enacted national security law harmed the city’s free press.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) released its yearly survey on Monday, coinciding with the UN’s World Press Freedom Day. The project interviewed 367 journalists and 1,023 local residents separately. The journalists surveyed gave 32.1 points out of 100 for press freedom – an all-time low since the questionnaire was introduced in 2013.

The public, on the other hand, gave 42.6 points – a slight improvement from last year’s record low – 41.9 points. But it was not statically significant, said Karie Pang of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Institute (PORI), which conducted the public survey in March.

Among the respondents who work in the journalism industry, 98.9 per cent said they believed the passage of the national security law last June had damaged the city’s press freedom. Often described as “draconian” by its critics, the sweeping legislation outlaws secession, subversion, collusion with foreign powers and terrorist acts.

The survey found that 85 per cent of journalists surveyed agreed with the statement that Hong Kong government was the source of suppression on free press.

PORI found 91.3 per cent of journalists who took the survey said Hong Kong’s press freedom saw a regression compared to the previous year, while 64.3 per cent of the citizens surveyed believed there was a decline.

Rock bottom?

“Press freedom is sinking, and [we] don’t know if it has reached rock bottom yet,” said HKJA chairman Chris Yeung.

Pang said the journalists polled gave “record low” scores to eight out of ten press freedom index indicators. They gave an average of 2.5 points out of 10 for staff facing pressure from a media company’s management, which they saw as affecting editorial freedom. The lower the score, the more common the situation was.

Instances of journalists self-censoring received 2.6 points, and cases of journalists facing difficulties obtaining information needed for reporting also received 2.6 points.

The head of the press group said some reporters expressed difficulty in finding people to give public, on-record reactions, including pan-democratic figures: “The chilling effect of the national security law will become even more prevalent… I don’t think there’s any room for optimism,” he said.

Yeung then criticised the government as being “media-unfriendly” or even “hostile” towards journalists, citing the case of documentary producer Bao Choy. Choy was convicted and fined last month for making false statements while obtaining vehicle license records for an RTHK programme that investigated alleged police misconduct during the 2019 Yuen Long mob attacks.

The HKJA chief quoted Chief Executive Carrie Lam as saying there was no special treatment for journalists. He said journalists play an unique role in monitoring and serving public interests, and they should have a “legitimate defence” to be determined by a court when there are questions of privacy infringement or defamation.

Aside from Choy’s prosecution, the questionnaire named four other major incidents linked to press freedom over the past year, including the security law enactment and the police raid of the office of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. They also cited the police decision to only recognise government-registered journalists and the mass layoff of iCable employees.

Yeung said Hong Kong was only at an early stage of what he saw as a hardened government approach to rein in the media. In light of the security law and the government’s vow to act against “fake news,” Yeung warned journalists will face greater risks in the future, but he said many are still passionate about their work.

“We have the national security law, But if we have another one on fake news, that’s another knife,” Yeung said. “It’s true that some journalists are leaving, or planning to change their profession, but I still see a lot of passion and commitment among the journalists.”

Please read our related blogs:

UN human right to the truth

There is no pride in a pack of lies : unless you control the narratives

Communist Hong Kong dumped: ranked 107th freest economy in the world

The death of RTHK as an 'independent' broadcaster in communist Hong Kong

Hong Kong government's 'Ministry of Truth'

An epidemic of extreme hypocrisy

Jimmy Lai named religious prisoner of conscience by US federal commission

CCP crushing Hong Kong’s freedoms as repression deepens

Declining Press Freedom in Hong Kong


Apple Daily 10 May 2021 'Editorial: Society without media supervision can only be corrupt | Apple Daily HK'

RTHK 6 May 2021 'Hong Kong Connection' producer quits RTHK'

RFA 6 May 2021 'Interview: 'I Kept Wanting to Stay And Do a Bit More'

RTHK 6 May 2021 'Bao Choy's 7.21 documentary wins human rights prize'

Apple Daily 6 May 2021 'Veteran Hong Kong journalist was stunned that her documentary led to her arrest'

RFA 3 May 2021 'Hong Kong Broadcaster Fires Reporter, Deletes Critical Programs'

HKFP 3 May 2021 'Hong Kong’s press freedom index sinks to all-time low amid security law'

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