Hong Kong Independent Media Group Will Relocate to Singapore

Initium Media's executive editor tells readers that the road to freedom in the city has gotten harder and harder in recent years.
By Chan Yun Nam
2021-08-03
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Hong Kong Independent Media Group Will Relocate to Singapore Chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association Ronson Chan (L) and Chris Yeung, editor for the report, release an HKJA report on Hong Kong press freedoms, "Freedom in Tatters," July 15, 2021.
AFP

An independent news website has announced it will relocate from Hong Kong to Singapore in the wake of a crackdown on political opposition and press freedom under a national security law imposed on the city by Beijing.

Initium Media announced the move in an open letter to readers posted to its website.

"In the past six years, the road to freedom has become a harder and harder one ... and Hong Kong's press freedom index has fallen to the 80th place in the world,"  Initium's executive editor Susie Wu said in an open letter to readers posted to the Initium website.

"We will move our headquarters to Singapore and produce content through online and decentralized methods," Wu wrote.

"We hope to send you this signal: not to be depressed about [Hong Kong's] predicament ... The road to freedom is long," she wrote. "Thinking and questioning are things everyone can do to safeguard their independence of thought."

Asked by Taiwan media whether the move was linked to a draconian national security law imposed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Hong Kong from July 1, 2020, Wu made no direct reply.

Public speech or actions that are critical of the Hong Kong or Chinese authorities have been criminalized under the law.

On July 29, a court in Hong Kong sentenced the first person under the law.

Meanwhile Steve Vines, a Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) columnist and former show host for government broadcaster RTHK, said he had left Hong Kong for the U.K.

"The white terror sweeping through Hong Kong is far from over and the near-term prospects of things getting better are simply non-existent,” Vines said in an email to friends and colleagues quoted by the HKFP.

"Hong Kong is now in a very dark place as the Chinese dictatorship has slashed and burned its way through the tattered remains of the One Country, Two Systems concept," Vines wrote, in a reference to promises by the CCP that Hong Kong would keep its political system, traditional freedoms, and judicial independence for at least 50 years.

'Leaving is not easy'

Political artist Kacey Wong said he had already left Hong Kong for Taiwan because he needed total freedom of expression.

"I have already left. Leaving is not easy, staying is also difficult," Wong said in a farewell letter posted to social media. "We have known each other for 51 years, I will not forget you."

"Let’s treasure each other, goodbye Hong Kong,” he wrote on his Facebook page, alongside music and quotes from Vera Lynn’s World War II hit "We’ll Meet Again."

Wong's political performance art has included works referencing the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and pro-democracy movement, Chinese censorship, and the national anthem law banning any disrespect to the Chinese national anthem in Hong Kong.

"For me, the critical moment for the decision to leave was the 47,” he said, in a reference to the arrests of 47 former opposition lawmakers and democracy activists for "subversion" under the national security law after they took part in a democratic primary ahead of elections to the city's legislature.

Wong said he had also been denounced by the CCP-run Ta Kung Pao newspaper. Denunciations in state media are increasingly a precursor to arrest under the national security law or illiberal, colonial-era laws relating to sedition and public assembly.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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