Hong Kong’s chief govt Carrie Lam on Tuesday introduced that the native authorities is at present drafting a “fake news” invoice geared toward combating what it deems to be “misinformation, hatred, and lies,” a transfer which specialists have dubbed as the most recent assault on press freedom within the metropolis.
During a press convention, Lam mentioned that the federal government was trying into “fake news” within the metropolis, however didn’t present a timetable for the laws.
“The fake news law needs a lot of research, especially [on] how overseas governments are tackling this increasingly worrying trend of spreading inaccurate information, misinformation, hatred, and lies on the social media,” Lam instructed reporters. “We will continue to be very serious about this issue because of the damage it is doing to many people.”
Under Beijing’s instructions, Hong Kong has taken a swift authoritarian flip following the imposition of a sweeping nationwide safety legislation by China’s ruling communist regime in 2020.
Critics say the vaguely worded legislation, which punishes offenses comparable to secession and collusion with international forces, has been used as a device to suppress dissidents. Since it took impact, the town has seen a drastic rollback of its freedoms, as dozens of pro-democracy figures have been charged or convicted below the laws or related legal guidelines. The clampdown has additionally stoked fears of additional restrictions on press freedom within the metropolis.
Before her newest announcement, Lam instructed lawmakers throughout a query and reply session on the Legislative Council final month that the native authorities is the “biggest victim of fake news.” Misinformation, Lam mentioned, has made all authorities work “very difficult.”
“The SAR government is the biggest victim of fake news … the things we said were quickly distorted, vilified,” Lam mentioned on the time.
Last month, Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was sentenced to 14 months in jail, and 9 different dissidents obtained jail time or suspended sentences for organizing and collaborating in unauthorized assemblies throughout mass anti-Beijing pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Pro-Beijing media and authorities officers in Hong Kong have additionally threatened to close down native unbiased newspaper Apple Daily, which was based by Lai and is among the metropolis’s few remaining free media shops.
In one other incident that has been condemned and denounced by U.S. lawmakers, The Epoch Times’ printing plant in Hong Kong was attacked by hammer-wielding intruders who broken the corporate’s computer systems and printing tools on April 12. The assault was additionally condemned by lawmakers, specialists, and organizations around the globe.
Hong Kong’s police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung has signaled that he would again a brand new legislation on “fake news” within the metropolis.
“I think it’s good to have such a law, you know, for every law that can assist the national security and assist us to make Hong Kong safer,” the Commissioner of Police of the Hong Kong Police Force mentioned throughout an look on TVB present “Straight Talk.”
Responding to the information, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong mentioned in a press release that such legal guidelines “are invariably used to stifle critical coverage and freedom of speech.”
“Journalists have contended with a range of challenges, including new police limits on accreditation, the prosecution of members of the media, ever increasing pressure on the editorial independence of RTHK, concerns over visas and an attack by thugs on a newspaper printing plant,” the statement said, noting that Hong Kong has fallen to eightieth place on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, from 18th in 2002.
Press freedom in Hong Kong has been in regular decline because the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
It added, “On World Press Freedom Day, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong wishes to express its solidarity with journalists who are facing harassment, imprisonment or risking their lives to carry out their essential mission.”
Benedict Rogers, the co-founder of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, referred to as the transfer “the latest assault on media freedom” in Hong Kong in a Twitter statement.
Alex Wu and Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times