AAJA and CPJ comment on Ming Pao editor attack

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(CPJ)

Hong Kong, February 26, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s attack on a journalist in Hong Kong and calls on authorities to conduct a thorough and efficient investigation and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. Kevin Lau Chun-to is now in critical condition, according to news reports.

Lau was attacked as he got out of his car in a residential neighborhood at around 10:30 a.m., according to news reports. The assailant used a cleaver to slash him three times in his back and leg and then fled the scene on a motorcycle ridden by another man, a police spokesman told CPJ. The journalist underwent emergency surgery at a hospital, news reports said.

“The violence against Kevin Lau Chun-to is one of the most serious attacks on a Hong Kong journalist that CPJ has documented in years,” Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, said from New York. “Hong Kong’s investigation and prosecution of this crime must demonstrate that the territory will not tolerate violent intimidation tactics against the media.”

Police were not immediately able to establish a motive in the attack, reports said. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, who visited Lau in the hospital, condemned the attack and called it “deliberate” and “ruthless,” the reports said.

In January, Lau was dismissedfrom his role as chief editor of the Chinese-language daily Ming Pao, and was named chief operating officer of MediaNet Resources, a subsidiary of the publication, according to news reports. He was replaced at Ming Pao by Chong Tien-siong, a Malaysian editor who has previously expressed pro-Beijing views.

Ming Pao editorial staff had protested Lau’s dismissal in a petition and in demonstrations outside the office. His dismissal came amid concern that press freedom in Hong Kong is suffering at the hands of media owners who prioritize business interests in China. Ming Pao is owned by a Malaysian timber tycoon who does significant business in China.

Under Lau, Ming Pao had contributed to a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that exposed offshore holdings of China’s elite, including relatives of President Xi Jinping and former Premier Wen Jiabao.

Senior management atMing Pao are offering a HK$1 million reward for more information on the attack, which occurred three days after thousands took to the streets in Hong Kong to march in support of press freedom.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association has documented several violent attacks on Hong Kong journalists in the past year. In one attack in June, three masked men threatened distribution workers of the pro-democracy Next Media group and burned thousands of copies of the group’s Chinese-language newspaper. Earlier the same month, iSun Affairs publisher Chen Ping was beaten by a group of unidentified baton-wielding men.

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