‘They can’t kill us all’: Thousands protest chopper attack on Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau

Lau sends message from hospital bed urging journalists to ‘stand fearless

Staff reporters, South China Morning Post, HONG KONG


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Hundreds of journalists crowd around a large banner that reads ‘They can’t kill us all’ at a protest against Wednesday’s attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau. Picture by Felix Wong

Demonstrators carrying placards that read ‘They can’t kill us all‘ were among thousands of people who gathered today to protest the brutal chopping attack on former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to, and to rally support for press freedom.

Ahead of the rally organisers played an audio recording made by Lau from his hospital bed – the first time his voice has been heard since he was hospitalised with horrific injuries to his chest and legs.

During the recording he urged journalists to “strive to tell the truth without fear or favour” and not be intimidated by acts of violence.

Organised by the Press Coalition against Violence, formed by prominent media organisations, the “Protest against Violence” began at noon at the park next to government’s Admiralty headquarters.

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Thousands of people are taking part in a march in support of press freedom following the brutal attack last Wednesday on Kevin Lau, the former chief editor of the Ming Pao newspaper. Picture by Felix Wong

 The march was organised following Wednesday’s brutal breakfast-time attack on Lau, which left him fighting for his life.

He was ambushed at 10.30am in what police described as a “classic triad” attack as he got out of his car near a Sai Wan Ho restaurant where he often went for breakfast.

His assailants, who critically injured him with a meat cleaver before escaping on a motorcycle, are still being hunted by police.

In his recording to demonstrators, Lau said: “A Chinese couplet on a campus poster from my days at the Hong Kong University came to mind, when I was lying on bed after the operations. It read, ‘A pen in hand, off my chest to tell the truth. For freedom is without fear or favour‘.

“The news media will only be truly inspiring when its practitioners persist in upholding truth and justice. And only those without fear or favour can truly be free.

“Violence is meant to intimidate. If we are frightened into submission, we will lose our freedom. We journalists must stand fearless. We must insist that justice be served. We must strive to tell the truth without fear or favour.

“Freedom is not given. Freedom is not free. We all have to earn and guard it.”

Lau is making a slow recovery in hospital after undergoing life-saving surgery for his injuries. He is in a stable condition after being moved from intensive care to a private ward on Saturday.

Following the protest organisers handed a petition to police containing tens of thousands of signatures collected over the past week to representatives at the Arsenal Street police headquarters, demanding officers bring the culprits to justice.

Regional Commander of Hong Kong Island, Li Kin-fai, received the petition. 

Li said the police attached great importance to this case and were investigating it from all angles, according to the press release by the Hong Kong government.

He said that over the past few days, a large amount of resources had been deployed in the investigation with a view to identifying and arresting the culprits.

He reiterated that the Police would not tolerate any violence and that the police, media and members of the public shared the same goal – to apprehend the culprits.

Earlier more than 100 journalists also took part in a silent-standstill protest, writing their names on the giant banner to demonstrate unity.

Sham Yee-lan, chairwoman of Hong Kong Journalists Association, said they would not be threatened by the blades of knives.

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 March, 2014.

Chaen’s view

We are totally united in support for press freedom in Hong Kong, and in Asia.

Al Jazeera asked me for my answer to 2 questions at the end of March 2014. This was my reply.

Q1. How concerned is the media situation in Hong Kong right now? What are the changes taking place and how much can pressure from Beijing be blamed for these changes?

A1. Hong Kong’s ranking in Reports Without Borders index on press freedom has significantly slid from 18th place in 2002 to 61st in 2014.
Beijing Representative office occasionally harass and pressure the free press in Hong Kong to revise or remove comments that it didn’t like.
Therefore it’s a big concern for freedom of press in Hong Kong.

Q2. Talk to us about the dominance of businessmen who own many of Hong Kong’s media outlets. What sort of influence do they exert and how much their influence impact editorial output?

A2. The trend is towards increasing self-censorship by editors. Or media tycoons with substantial business interests in China have installed editors who are pro-China. Since the 1990s, there have been a spate of unsolved attacks against media owners and journalists who were not aligned with the Chinese Government.