How long more will Apple Daily be a part of the
Hong Kong (media) scene?
pro-democracy newspaper will be
no more (and not because it's sold out either) :(
It's been a terrible past few days for Jimmy Lai. This past Tuesday saw him appear in court together with eight other pro-democracy figures charged with having organized and/or taken part in an "illegal assembly" back on August 18th, 2019. Scheduled to run through to March, the trial continued into yesterday; during which the defence encountered a setback after the presiding judge announced that she was refusing to admit a report prepared by British policing expert Clifford Stott as evidence for the defendants and also was refusing to entertain the defence’s application to summon the social psychology scholar to testify in court via videoconferencing.
That same day, the media mogul was arrested once more under the security law and charged along with a 29-year-old paralegal, Chan Tze-wah, who worked for him: this time for their alleged involvement in assisting activist Andy Li in his bid to escape to Taiwan in August last year (which, tragically, was unsuccessful). I feel for Chan Tze-wah but I really feel for Jimmy Lai; this not least because the number of charges levelled against him really have hit dizzying levels.
More and more, it seems that the powers that be (be it in Hong Kong or over in Beijing, or both) have a personal vendetta against Hong Kong's most -- and only -- openly pro-democracy tycoon. And one is moved to wonder if the likes of Jimmy Lai (age 73 years) and Joshua Wong (age 24 years) are ever going to be able to get out of prison in their lifetime -- what with so many charges having been slapped against them to date.
Add to this the not insignificant matter of the self-made billionaire already having spent quite a bit of time behind bars despite not actually having been found guilty (thus far) of any crimes for which he has been charged and his situation really does feel particularly unfair. Speaking of which: he was denied bail once again today for his first national security law charge; with one lawyer on Twitter speaking for many with his statement that "If Jimmy Lai can't satisfy an NSL judge to grant bail, then nobody ever will. Simple as that."
The long-time pro-democracy advocate is on the record as stating that: "Even with handcuffs, I feel at peace" and that he is willing to sacrifice for Hong Kong. Hailing originally from Mainland China, Jimmy Lai undoubtedly knew the kind and amount of pressure and oppression the authorities can exert on an individual. Even so, knowing is one thing and experiencing another -- and watching it all happen to a loved one is something else altogether. There are reports that his family and friends burst into tears as he signalled his love for them as he was escorted out of court this afternoon. Who can blame them for being upset by the injustice along with his sacrifice?
On a more positive note: Hong Kong recorded single digit daily Wuhan coronavirus figures once again today and its coronavirus vaccine innoculation drive is set to begin before the end of this month. More re the latter: following the news that the government has decided to go ahead and approve the Sinovac vaccine, Carrie Lam went on the record that this will be the one that she personally is going for.
She undoubtedly stated this to try to boost public confidence in the Mainland Chinese vaccine whose efficacy stats have left some people doubting whether it's worth taking. Here's the thing though: she really ought to boost public confidence in her first! We are talking, after all, about Hong Kong's most unpopular Chief Executive ever by a long chalk: whose current "no confidence" rating stands at 70% and net approval at -52%! (Note: I'm not insulting her -- something the government is reportedly seeking to make illegal! -- here; merely stating the facts!)