Jimmy Lai, one of the most influential pro-democracy personalities of Hong Kong, has been arrested. The Beijing Police has also searched all the newspaper offices owned by Lai based on significant officials’ escalation. The charges pressed against Jimmy Lai are all in the enforcement of a state security law of Beijing. On the other hand, several journalists and activists condemn the arrest of a senior executive of Apple Daily and Jimmy Lai. The company supplies the largest pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong. According to the people against the case, there is no more scope of freedom for day press workers when it comes to stating their opinion.
Amidst all this tension, Next Digital Media, the publisher of Apple Daily, announces that it is infuriating to hear about the arrests and raid on the AD office. The publishers officially warned the state management that they should not forget that the press has freedom on certain things. It seems that all such rights are now in a doubtful condition. However, the staff is not weak and is committed to defending their rights irrespective of all hurdles.
Reason for Jimmy Lai’s arrest
The 71-year old business tycoon Jimmy Lai has always been a supporter of the pro-democracy movement of Hong Kong. He was arrested on Monday, August 9, along with six other people, including his son. According to the news, he is facing charges as a suspect for colluding with foreign forces. Besides, the police have also pressed charges of fraud and conspiracy against Lai. On the other hand, pro-democracy activist Nathan Law reported the arrest of his fellow activist Agnes Chow under the same new Beijing Law. According to the Hong Kong police reports, a total of 10 people between the ages of 23 years-72 years are now under arrest. Out of them, there is only one woman, and the rest are all men.
In viral live streaming, dozens of media staff witnessed the elaborate raid by the police in the Apple Daily office building. There were hundreds of cops, and sources say that the raid was utterly unprecedented. When the police reached the AD office, Ryan Law-Wai Kwong, the editor-in-chief, warned them to stay away from any vandalizing until their lawyer’s arrival. Ryan stood firm, saying that he will not let the police touch anything before their lawyer validates the search warrant. Every employee present in the office was instructed to display their IDs. Moreover, the situation became more embarrassing when Lai was handcuffed. Besides, he was almost pulled out of the newsroom by the cops.
The local people are not supporting such violence
While thousands of people watched the live stream of the incident, most of them believe that the police appear to be in contradictions. Earlier, they had mentioned that news materials would be kept out of target anyhow. However, during the raid, the cops did rifle through all documents lying on the employee desks around. Moreover, they also confiscated a few boxes containing essential papers by the end of the raid. Later, the state police restricted other newspaper offices from attending a press conference regarding the raid. Some of the offices about attending the meeting were Reuters, RTHK public broadcaster, Agence France-Presse, and more.
In an official interview, Chris Yeung, Chief of the journalist association of Hong Kong, said that it was a horrific raid. He believes that there are presently several third-world countries; the suppression of press freedom still exists. However, he adds that it is unbelievable and disappointing that Hong Kong also falls on that list. On the other hand, Next Digital publishers accused the authorities and police of abusing power given to them. They have reported that it was a breach of press freedom utilizing intimidation. Besides, the cops were trying to create a crazy and scary situation for all employees. Although Jimmy Lai’s arrest was not shocking for most people, it has undoubtedly created quite a buzz around the city. The citizens are already on their toes after the announcement of Beijing’s national security law regarding secessionist and sedition activities and foreign intrigue.
Police history of Jimmy Lai
According to police records, Jimmy Lai holds a UK citizenship as well. Moreover, he is the most prestigious person who is booked for federal charges. If the costs get proved in front of the court of law, he may have to face a jail term. It may be between three to ten years, or even for his entire life. The prison term depends on the gravity of his crime in the eyes of the law. In 2019, the media named him one of the anti-government gang members who were conspiring against Beijing. Moreover, he is presently facing charges for an old pro-democracy protest case as well. Recently, Lai became one of the 25 people who were all booked to attend a massacre vigil on Tiananmen Square back in June.
According to reports of Global times, Lai is a traitor at present. Moreover, there are speculations about the fact that he will never get bail and instead face hefty charges. Journalists from Hong Kong are continually issuing warnings that the new law will very soon invite severe effects on the local media. On the other hand, Eddie Chu Hoi-Dick, legislator and activist, says that Lai’s arrest was more significant controversy. The Chinese Communist Party is behind all of it. Hoi-Dick also believes that this incident is nothing but the first step of a media blackout that is soon to take place in Hong Kong.
Implementation of new policies in Hong Kong
The recent raid carried out by the police marks the first-ever incident in history when a particular law has become the weapon against the Hong Kong media. Till now, the press of this city always had the highest order of freedom. According to a New York Times, they are now planning to move a significant part of their Hong Kong office to South Korea soon. Moreover, several organizations are also complaining that visas for foreign journalists are facing renewal restrictions. On Monday, August 9, the Standard media website said that the department of immigration had added a national security unit. It will scrutinize all visa applications, especially those of journalists.