The fight between Tang and Leung in the election for the Chief Executive is heating up, generating some genuine interest for the first time. Even though both candidates are “pre-approved”, the process is tightly controlled, and the general public cannot really participate, there is a sense that the two candidates represent different segments of Hong Kong, and that the central government cannot completely ignore public sentiment if it is too lopsided. Hence the interest.
A few days days ago Leung complained that the SingTao line of newspapers had been criticizing him maliciously and unfairly. Two days ago Ho, the owner of the ST group responded with a scathing attack on Leung. In the mean time, the polls continue to show Leung leading Tang by a large margin.
The SCMP published yesterday (9 Dec 2011) on the front page an article commenting on the large lead that L is holding over T, even though the central government appears to be favouring Tang, followed by a lengthy analysis of the polls on page 4. It also reported on the exchanges between Ho and Leung on page 3. It can be said the SCMP provided a fairly balanced report, with analysis.
Similarly, am730 reported on the exchanges between Leung and Ho on page 1, with more reporting and analysis on the election on page 2, even reporting on candidates other than Leung and Tang.
In contrast, the Headline News, published by the SingTao Group, published several articles on pages 1, 2 and 8, completely in favour of Ho and Tang, and continued to dig up more dirt on Leung. The same for the Standard. There does not appear to be any negative news on Tang in either paper.
A little while ago, it became known that Lai, the owner of Apple Daily, was making contributions to pro-democracy parties and persons. As a consequence, there was a big uproar, from pro-establishment politicians and media, complaining that the Apple Daily was biased - as if it was some kind of diabolical secret that the Hong Kong public was unaware of.
This time, when the reporting of pro-establishment media is blatantly obvious, there have not been a beep from anyone. So the lesson is: it is OK for pro-establishment media to be biased, but it is not OK for media to be liberal and pro-democracy?
People have been asking whether Hong Kong has changed since 1997. This is one area in which Hong Kong has changed - for the worse.