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Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 23:27

Gutter journalism shameful

By Staff writer

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Tuesday condemned a local magazine for hiring two “special correspondents” recently to stalk his daughter on the campus of Stanford University in California. The excuse given by Next Media, which owns the weekly in question, is that these two people were merely doing their job as journalists and the matter concerns the public interest in Hong Kong.

The argument for press freedom and journalistic responsibility is always a forceful one. But however grandiose the arguments are, they can’t justify paparazzi-like behavior. Stalking and harassing a young student innocent in the so-called “luggage-gate” saga is morally repugnant. What people have just witnessed is merely part of a campaign to play up a minor issue to discredit the CE and make it harder for him to govern.

Hong Kong residents are well aware of the checkered past of Next Media — particularly its two notorious publications — Apple Daily and Next Magazine. Both have made a bad name for themselves over the years with questionable and controversial stories to serve their political purposes.

It is also public knowledge that Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, owner of Next Media, has “donated” tens of millions of dollar to local opposition parties and individuals. This is despite the fact the company has not been very profitable in recent years.

Given Lai’s political bias and strong anti-Beijing convictions, it is no surprise the media group would stop at nothing in its character assassination campaign against the CE. What is more effective than bringing the head of government down to throw Hong Kong into a constitutional crisis? Let’s not forget the LegCo elections are less than five months away and the opposition parties are fighting among themselves for votes.

Although this is nothing new, such infighting will undercut the opposition camp’s chances of winning as many LegCo seats as possible. It may even cost it the critical minority it currently holds. Lai knows very well he does not have the kind of gravitas to command all the opposition parties. This is why he is using his publications to create a “common prey” for all members of the opposition camp. He is betting on the public believing that what he does is actually journalism and that the CE is a “bad guy” trying to silence him. But many people are aware that he is prepared to do anything, except real journalism, to serve certain foreign interests and to disrupt China’s peaceful rise.

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