Standalone mogul

apple daily

 

Profiling Apple Daily, one of Hong Kong’s most sensational and outspokenly anti-Communist news outlets established by Jimmy Lai, founder of fashion giant Giordano, as it undergoes a series of shadowy threats from numerous underground organizations, one alerting concern also currently being faced by numerous independent journalists living in the semi-independent city-state of what they perceive as ‘Beijing’s increasingly tightening grip on the city’s media industry and freedom of expression’.

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

 

Excerpt:

 

Lai is the most powerful critic of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, if not the world. Next Media now employs more than 4,000 people, according to company executives, and also owns popular entertainment magazines and web portals. His flagship tabloid, Apple Daily, founded in 1995, introduced Hong Kong to an irreverent mix of salacious Fleet Street-style journalism and political activism. Lai brought large-character tabloid headlines, web-cam “scoops” of celebrities backstage, irrelevant animations of breaking domestic and international news stories, and front-page calls for protests. But his biggest cause is what in Hong Kong is called “universal suffrage” — the right of citizens, not a council, to choose their chief executive.

Whoever wanted to silence Lai and his activism has instead increased public support for his cause and driven traffic to his websites. Just hours after the fourth triad-style attack, on July 1, tens of thousands of peopletook to the streets calling for genuine democratic elections in 2017.According to internal figures shown to Foreign Policy, traffic to the Hong Kong website has surged to about 20 million page views each day, and that’s not including a staggering 10 million daily views of the news and animation videos.

But Lai’s dream of universal suffrage for Hong Kong is looking less and less likely — and the city’s famously open and cacophonous media landscape is under threat. Hong Kong’s independent-minded journalists are complaining that opinion columns are being tampered with, popular columnists sacked, and news self-censored by tremulous editors. This media crackdown reflects a trend of Beijing tightening its control on Hong Kong. “The Chinese Communist Party’s growing subjugation of the Hong Kong executive and its pressure on the Hong Kong media through its ‘Liaison Office’ is increasingly compromising media pluralism there,” Reporters Without Borders said in a February report. Hong Kong has slid to 61 out of 180 countries and territories on the organization’s World Press Freedom Index, down from 18 in 2002.

And the challenges keep coming. This year, as the July 1 anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover from Britain to Beijing again approaches, the 66-year-old Lai faces a different kind of threat. Now, two Western financial institutions — banks nurtured in the laws and freedoms of the British Empire — appear to be boycotting Lai’s Hong Kong media business in service of Beijing.

MH370

mh370

 

 

It was supposed to be a normal flight like any other do. Families waiting for their beloved ones after a few days’ travel, couples to meet their relatives back in town, students taking a long break after that enduring, oftentimes excruciating, series of school activities, employees taking their short break to release their stresses, and myriad stories to go. They boarded one of the world’s most excellent airlines, having – despite occasional minor incidents – excellently, and safely, brought more than 12 million passengers worldwide, putting on themselves normal expectations on what to do after their arrival back home.

But the flight, taking place from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, had never arrived ever since. On March 8, deep down in its early dusk, the plane’s signal disappeared. So do the passengers. And up to this moment, the day this post is published, despite intensive efforts by numerous countries to track the aircraft – going so far as involving more than 40 jets and up to 30 ships, none of the attempts has resulted in any definitive answers for its mystery, though. As long as the search goes, rumors, speculation, and even conspiracy theories color the ongoing conversations, in particular social media. We heard stories from Vietnam authorities that the plane has crashed at seas – the source was obscure. The rescue teams discovered slicks of oil thought to be that of the aircraft – these slicks were from tankers. Other teams had discovered what was thought to be parts of the aircraft – they turn out to be random items discarded at sea. Two mysterious passengers, having boarded the flight using forged passports, who were once suspected of a possible terrorism plot, were no more than hopeful Iranian migrants looking for a better life in Europe.

The mystery remains at bay, and frustration escalates into deep anguish, and anger. The passengers’ families in Beijing unceasingly storm the Malaysian Airlines officials regarding their relatives’ fate; as long as the search results in null-and-void, there is nothing much the company can do. They are being shouted at, yelled at, and even thrown water bottles, by some of the family members. Still, though, without any valid results from the search-and-rescue teams, there is nothing much the company can do.

With things remaining in limbo, I can only hope for one thing, though: whether it will be good news, whether it will be bad news, let there be light for the families left behind. May all their beloved ones be allowed to gain the truth, even if it means they have to prepare for the worst consequences. Let there be light for everyone.

 

The Straits Times has compiled some of the stories from Malaysia Airlines MH370’s passengers, and some of these may be heartbreaking. Read the full article, titled ‘Faces of MH370’, here.

The exploding man

the screaming man

 

 

The whole China was left dumbfounded when a man on a wheelchair set off a bomb to himself in Beijing’s international airport last Saturday (20/7).

This man, identified as Ji Zhongxing, claimed that he was a victim of the country’s ‘ravaging’ political and social injustice. He claimed he was captured by local police in Dongguan city, Guangdong province, for owning an illegal motorcycle taxi, but was then severely beaten until he was left paralyzed.

Furthermore, he said that he had petitioned Beijing for a review of his case, but to no avail. He was forced to cover up the court fees, his parents died afterwards, and he ended up burdened in debts. In the climax that followed, setting up explosives was his Hobson’s choice in voicing out his frustration.

The public media itself – and bloggers alike – were largely divided in analyzing this occurrence. Some believed he was ‘victim of the state illegitimacy’, while others, on the other hand, alleged that he was acting like a lone wolf.

 

And what do you think about this case?

 

Read further on how the netizens opined on this case in Global Voices Online.