KARACHI: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) announced on Monday that it would honour Jimmy Lai, the imprisoned founder of Hong Kong’s Next Digital media company and Apple Daily newspaper, with the 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.
Jimmy Lai — who will be honored at the CPJ’s 2021 International Press Freedom Awards on November 18, 2021 — has become a powerful symbol for the struggle to maintain press freedom in Hong Kong as China’s Communist Party exerts greater control over the territory. In prison, and denied bail, the outspoken critic of the Chinese government and advocate for democracy, faces charges that could keep him in jail for the rest of his life. Last week, police raided Apple Daily’s headquarters and arrested five executives.
After the 1989 Tiananmen Square fiasco, Jimmy Lai launched Next magazine as part of his Next Media group, now known as Next Digital. As a result of his critical commentary, China began to force branches of his retail clothing businesses on the mainland to close.
He launched the Apple Daily in 1995, introducing tabloid-style journalism to Hong Kong and later Taiwan, and has openly supported the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
“Jimmy Lai is not just a champion of a free press, he is a press freedom warrior. He fights for the right of his Apple News organisation to publish freely, even as China and its backers in Hong Kong use every tool to quash them,” said Kathleen Carroll, chair of CPJ’s board.
Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2021