- Sources report that Lai was arrested on the grounds of threat and fraud under the new national security Law
- Jimmy Lai is the owner of the Apple Daily newspaper and Next Magazine
- Lai described the new law as “a death knell for Hong Kong”
The vociferous face of the Hong Kong media and publisher of Apple Daily and Next Magazine Jimmy Lai was arrested early Monday under the new national security law brought in Beijing. Lai was arrested along with his two sons and four other employees of his publishing company on suspicion of “collusion with foreign forces” and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Lai’s arrests have definitely alarmed the former British Colony. Activists and Journalists marked the events on Monday as “the day press freedom officially died.”
Who is Jimmy Lai?
Jimmy Lai is the most high-profile media person with a net worth of more than $1 billion. He started out in the clothing industry and later moved on to the media. He is the founder of the newspaper Apple Daily which frequently criticizes the leadership of Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. He is also the outspoken funder of the pro-democracy movement of 2019, in which he participated.
Lai typically accused the new security Law which would corrupt Hong Kong as much as the mainland. The new law would mostly affect the free steering of businesses forward. In an interview with AFP news agency, Mr. Lai said “I’m prepared for prison. If it comes, I will have the opportunity to read books I haven’t read. The only thing I can do is be positive.
The New Law
Hong Kong, unlike the rest of the Chinese mainland, had been involuntary to Beijing’s laws since 1997. Its residents enjoy much higher freedom of speech and media compared to those on the mainland.
The new security law, however, has put a stop to all of these.
- The new law includes crimes of terrorism, secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces punishable by a maximum sentence of imprisonment.
- The law gives power to Beijing to reshape the former British Colony
- Freedom of speech and media remain uncertain
Reacting to the Arrests
Anonymous sources commented that Lai’s arrest was “straight harassment” and that the media company had arranged lawyers for him.
Asia program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalist Steven Butler asserted Lai’s charges to be dropped and released. He said that the arrest
“bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong’s national security law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom”.
This is definitely not the first arrest since the establishment of new laws. The first one saw several protesters arrested on August 1st on manifestation.
The next arrest was on 30th July where four students and former pro-independence activists were arrested under the law.