Carrie Lam named ‘press freedom predator’

International journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has named Chief Executive Carrie Lam a “predator of press freedom”.

The list, which RSF has been compiling since 2016, names the heads of state or governments which they say crack down on press freedom through various measures, such as imposing draconian laws, jailing journalists or arbitrarily inciting violence against them.

This year’s list of 37 people includes 17 new entries – including the SAR leader. Other people on the list include Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.

The group described Lam as “President Xi Jinping’s puppet”, and accused her of “relentlessly” targeting symbols of press freedom in Hong Kong.

It cited the freezing of Apple Daily’s financial assets last month, saying the move had effectively forced the pro-democracy newspaper to shut down.

The RSF also accused Lam of carrying out an “orchestrated judicial harassment” of Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai as well as former journalist and lawmaker Claudia Mo – both of whom were arrested and charged under the national security law.

The watchdog, meanwhile, slammed the CE for launching a “full-blown intimidation campaign” against RTHK, saying the new director of broadcasting, Patrick Li, was “tasked with setting up an internal censorship system”.

It said the public broadcaster’s airing of the CE’s talk show on Beijing’s electoral reforms in April was a clear example of Lam taking “editorial interference to the next level”.

Earlier in the year, the group ranked Hong Kong at 80th out of the 180 countries and territories in its World Press Freedom Index – unchanged from last year.

In its analysis at the time, the group said the national security law allows Beijing to intervene directly to punish what it regards as “crimes against the state” and is especially dangerous for journalists.