Awaiting a Democratic Hong Kong
Last Thursday an interview of me was played on TV in a show called “Discussion Point,” on Cable News Channel One. It was a show on "blogging and Hong Kong culture," and I of was invited to speak because of my nomination for the "freedom blog awards," which in every which way is a free speech award and I was the only person from Hong Kong who has been nominated.
Although I am not keen on discussing "blogging," on the whole with the press, I decided to do it because a very high profile political commentator recommended me, and I felt I should thank him by appearing. But I made a real effort to make sure my answers would not be fluff on blogging, but about blogging and the freedom of press. Before I went in, I already have a feeling that they didn't want politics, and in a preliminary conversation, I actually asked the journalist, "You know what I write about don't you? You know what the award is right?"
"Err. Yes, I looked at it. You talk a lot about freedom of press. I want you to talk about that, really."
I went in skeptical but hopeful. I talked a lot about the issues and she asked me a lot about them as well. But came Thursday, my gut feeling was right as it turned out to be an exercise in either out right censorship by Cable News One, or (more likely) a poster moment of self-censorship by the press.
Every single mention I made about politics was duly removed. Every one. The words “Freedom of press,” “Rule of Law,” “Democratic Movement,” never came out of my mouth. Not even once. It got a mention with the voice over, as it was explained by the journalist that is what I write about. Having said that, I am not even sure if “Democratic Movement” actually got a mention. I will check.
My three minutes consisted of comments on the Global Culture of Blogging. And how the blog was the place I sort out my "thoughts," and help develop them. But I wasn't talking about "Thoughts in General," I was talking about "Political Thoughts," in particular, and I am amazed at the time they took to edit that segment to the point it was completely out of context. As a non-linear editor myself I know how they do it, and was suspicions they would try. So I purposely phrased what I said so it was difficult. They managed it, and I am not totally convinced they didn't remove parts of the soundtrack. What I plan to do it go through it slowly bit by bit on my editing software just to make sure they didn't.
And what makes me even more concerned is pretty much every Hong Kong person I spoke about this with doesn’t feel like this is censorship at all. They make a myriad of excuses for the words “Freedom of speech, freedom of press, rule of law and democratic movement,” to magically disappear, because either it’s not interesting to the public or had nothing to do with blogs at all.
But I talked to other people in other parts of the world as well. Just to see what response I would get.
My friend in Australia said, “Don’t be angry, it’s just how it is. They don’t let you talk over there.”
My America friend said, “They sooo, censored you. No question. You should thank them for doing that, because it just proves your point and therefore what you are doing has real relevance.”
My Political Adviser for the Common Wealth friend in London summed it all up,
“The degradation of freedom of speech starts with self censorship, which has been continually getting worse in Hong Kong. But the people have been in the environment for so long that they don’t realize that it’s not a civil society because the place has some semblance of free speech, and not politically censored. But they have never experienced the potential of the media as it could be and is at other places. Of course blogging is political, the most famous blogs are about politics and taking that away from the story is censoring and cutting out the debate. It is censorship. Very obviously so.”
So I told her my plan. I am going to put up the transcript of the interview in English, along with the segment itself. Then I will write down what I was asked and how I actually answered. Then I can let people decide what they think happened.
Any my friend replied.
“That’s what is good about this. Your blog becomes a channel that cannot be censored and give you a pathway to tell your side of the story. You can write down what you said and let people know even if they cut all that part out. That’s what’s great about the medium, that’s where the change that is happening. People have an avenue to reply and talk back to the media and tell their own views.