Conflict of Interests – Interests of Conflict (4 Dec, 13)

Conflict of Interests – Interests of Conflict

4th December 2013


Good morning Hong Kong.

TVB ‘veteran’ Robert Chua defends TVB’s decision to exclude Apple Daily reporters from the company’s press meetings following the call for boycott of TVB’s annual gala.

There very well is a way to argue that TVB’s is legitimized to do this, but Chua inexplicably uses the argument that TVB’s decision does not restrict freedom of the press as it is the only choice that the broadcaster had to defend itself.

But defend itself against what? Excluding Apple Daily’s reporters certainly did not stop Apple Daily from boycotting the channel, and it also did not make Apple Daily’s boycott less effective. It made TVB appear like a bully who sends out invites to everyone in class who does not oppose their rule. Not exactly the kind of narrative that wins Hong Kong’s young over.

Even more surprising are Chua’s views on governance (or not, if you follow Chua more closely) in the Singapore – Hong Kong context. It is not rare to come across people who are favorable of strong dictators, who despise freedom of speech and love their government unconditionally, but they should bring on more arguments than Chua does.

“People should respect a government’s decisions, as they would their parents’ decisions, and not just challenge and oppose things for the sake of it. Just like any parent, even though they may sometimes be wrong, officials acted with the best intentions. Not all decisions are correct but, just as in business, ultimately someone has to step up. We need to trust our government to make a decision without resorting to daily protests, or to orchestrating public opinion.”

These statements do not at all explain what makes Singapore so successful, or what distinguishes it from the governments of Syria or Somalia. Should the citizens of these countries also trust their government with making good decisions? Why not? When can we trust a government, and when can we not? When do we know if a government has made a mistake, or when it is acting from malice?

By crediting Leung Chun-ying with handling the property cooling measures and the milk powder shortages well Chua shows that he either does not read the news or it shows that it is really difficult to find a Leung success story.

“There is a price for everything, including freedom of expression. Can we really afford to pay it?”

What exactly would the price of freedom of expression be? It is much more easy to explain the price of lack of freedom of expression.

If we were not able to speak out, issues would remain ignored, officials had little incentive to do the best job they can deliver, the weak would not get heard and the strong always get their way. We would not be able to educate ourselves and have to rely on the government to tell us what is right and wrong. Those in power would have an easy time to form new generations in a way that makes it impossible for them to challenge the rich, famous and powerful.

We cannot afford to lose freedom of expression.

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