As Press Freedom Is Silenced, Hong Kong People Must Beware

By Stanley Ng, Epoch Times
March 5, 2014 9:13 am Last Updated: March 6, 2014 6:42 am

Commentary

HONG KONG—There is constant controversy over press freedom in Hong Kong media. Commercial Radio recently underwent an unusual staff reshuffle in which Chief Executive Officer Stephen Chan was renamed “Chief of the Think Tank,” and Li Wei-ling, host of a political talk show, was abruptly fired.

A Commercial Radio spokesman gave no comment on the termination of Li’s contract except “There are no harsh words upon a separation between gentlemen.”

Shortly before, when Ming Pao replaced its chief editor, some said that as a commercial organization, the fate of its employees was the boss’s personal choice. In other words, there was no obligation to make any explanation to the public.

Some people also believe they can apply this specious theory to Commercial Radio’s decision. Let us calmly analyze the underlying rights and wrongs of this incident.

According to some economic theories, products enjoyed by consumers can be divided into two categories: private goods and public goods. The main difference is that the former is only for personal consumption, while the latter can be shared by many people.

For example, an apple is private goods. If I eat it, others cannot enjoy its delicious taste. On the other hand, airwaves can be classified as public goods, because many people can listen to the same program at the same time.

Therefore, intelligent people recognize the media as a public institution, and it must be responsible to the whole society.

Hong Kong media has been suppressed in recent years. More and more Hong Kong people deeply feel that freedom in our news and speech is severely threatened.

Some democrats at the Legislative Council expressed shock and anger about the Commercial Radio incident, pointing out that Commercial Radio’s broadcasts are a public resource. They said the company needs to be accountable to the public, and it needs to give an open explanation for terminating the employment of Li Wei-ling.

In fact, without further discussion, we can be almost certain that this incident is one more action the government has taken to silence opposition. Li Wei-ling has always been outspoken, strongly criticizing the government’s wrongdoings. She has long been a thorn in their sides, so for commercial and political reasons, they blatantly used the first opportunity to get rid of her.

By now, even if Commercial Radio responds to the uproar in society and comes up with some reason for the dismissal of Li Wei-ling, it would be excuses and nonsense.

Under such dangerous circumstances, Hong Kong people must realize that we need to find a way out of the dark to avoid regretting it later.

Translated by JK Lu. Written in English by Sally Appert.

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