Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying shows a lack of respect towards press freedom, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said on Tuesday.
The statement blasted Leung for his criticism of Next Magazine after they sent two reporters to the Stanford University campus in the US to interview his daughter Leung Chung-yan, who sparked the “bag-gate” saga last month.
“The ‘bag-gate’ incident raises questions over whether the first family in Hong Kong are abusing their privileges, [a question] which is tied to the public interest,” the statement said. “When the reporters from Next Magazine conducted their interview there were still many unsolved mysteries surrounding this incident, thus it was reasonable for the reporters to interview the party involved in order to uncover the truth.”
The Association cited Leung’s comments about his commitment to defending press freedom.
“The Association would like to remind Leung Chun-ying that when he was a candidate for the role of Chief Executive he signed a ‘freedom charter’, committing to defend press freedom in Hong Kong. But in the three years since he has taken office, press freedom in Hong Kong has gone from bad to worse.”
The Association also said that the timing of Leung’s comments were odd given that they came just one day after he gave a speech at the HK News Awards touting the virtues of press freedom and pledging to defend it in Hong Kong.
“Leung Chun-ying stated yesterday at the HK News Awards ceremony that press freedom is an important cornerstone of Hong Kong. With those words still ringing in our ears, it is quite ironic that he then proceeds to criticise reporters for doing their jobs.”
The Hong Kong Journalists Association has been a vocal defender of press freedom in Hong Kong, publishing a study last month that found press freedom had hit a new low. The Association has criticised the Hong Kong government under Leung over multiple incidents ranging from burying a press release for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge by releasing it late at night to banning online media from covering vote counting during the New Territories East by-election.