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ANM urges Macau NPC deputies to speak out for press freedom

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The New Macau Association (ANM) issued an open letter to the 12 Macau deputies to the Chinese National Congress (NPC) to urge them to support the Southern Weekly, in order to defend press and speech freedom in both mainland China and Macau, from within the establishment as virtual congressmen.
The censorship of the outspoken newspaper in Guangzhou prompted Macau journalists, students and civic groups to stand out in support of freedom of the press, and ANM said that it’s time for the people inside the establishment, especially those with a constitutional role to play at the national rather than regional level, to demonstrate their support of the journalists.
In a press conference held at ANM headquarters yesterday, the group presented their letter, 12 copies of which will be sent to the 12 Macau NPC deputies, in which they expressed indignation of the Guangdong provincial authority’s censorship of the Southern Weekly’s contents, as well as the fabrication of an editorial by the Beijing News in criticism of the Guangzhou newspaper’s journalists for their defiant actions in response to the government’s high-handed censorship.
In addition, ANM lamented the lengthy silence kept by the Macau NPC deputies, despite public outrage in Macau, HK, Taiwan and Mainland against press censorship.
“The same thing [press censorship] is also happening in Macau with the termination of the TDM’s talk show Macau Forum, allegedly for political reasons,” said ANM Vice-president Lei Kuok Keong. “While the journalists under freedom restrictions are fighting against censorship, it’s shameful for the mainstream media in the relatively free society of Macau to keep their silence over the issue.”
ANM legislator Ng Kuok Cheong said that their open letter is intended to address the problem from within the establishment, after actions by people on the civil side: “We’re giving the state mechanism a chance to function properly and let people know that the current system is reliable and effective in dealing with these problems, so it’s time for the NPC deputies to do their work and push for social advancement.”
“People are watching closely to see if the system in the establishment is working or not, if the 12 NPC deputies don’t perform their work, then they’re telling us that the system is rubbish and we have to do things in our own way,” Ng warned, and mentioned further actions may be taken - such as going to protest in the mainland.

People have great expectations for Xi’s new leadership, so they would be very disappointed if the new team is keeping the old Communist mind-set in controlling the mass media in place - Au Kam San

Another ANM lawmaker, Au Kam San, said that while Southern Weekly is the victim of press censorship in the southern part of the country, Beijing’s Yan Huang Chun Qiu Monthly has become a new victim in the north, with its Internet edition closed by the authority. He said that it is important to take the latest series of press censorship measures as a gauge of the nature of the new Chinese leadership: “Is this the result of an internal power dispute between Xi Jinping and Lee Guoqiang? People have great expectations for Xi’s new leadership, so they would be very disappointed if the new team is keeping the old Communist mind-set in controlling the mass media in place.”
“The current political mechanism in China can in no way prevent corruption and abuse of power, so the country relies heavily on the media as the watchdog, so the leadership’s treatment of the media is a clear reflection of its political orientation.”
ANM president Jason Chao warned of more high-profile actions to support the mainland media if the 12 Macau NPC deputies take no action, and he urged the local media not to exercise self-censorship when they still have the freedom to report the truth.
ANM member Choi Chi Chio and law student Zhu Menlong were also present at the press conference yesterday to share in their earlier experiences participating in the demonstration outside the Southern Weekly’s office in Guangzhou. They said over 100 protestors were divided into two camps, with one side supporting the newspapers’ journalists and the other side labeling the journalists “traitors of the country.” The ratio of their presence was around 4 to 1, according to the two youths’. They couldn’t approach the newspaper’s journalists, who remained inside the office.
They said that despite heated debate between the two sides, the demonstration was on the whole peaceful, and the police standing by did not take any action against protestors. A group of suspected plain-clothed police officers mounted a CCTV camera on a tree to capture protesters’ images.
 “It’s risky in mainland to do these kinds of things,” said Zhu, “so it’s courageous for people to stand out in defense of press freedom, which is what they should do.”
“I’m much worried that the same thing would happen in Macau,” said Choi, “in support of the mainland journalists, we placed flowers outside their office.”

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