The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned about the Macau Government’s decision to appoint a civil servant to the position of president of the public broadcaster.
The Macau government has appointed Manuel Goncalves Pires Junior as President of the Executive Committee of Teledifusao De Macau (TDM) from March 1. Goncalves Pires Junior is currently President of TDM’s Board of Directors and also Deputy Director of the Tourist Office of Macau.
The current President of the Executive Committee, Leong Kam-Chun, is a professional auditor who was an elected legislator in Macau in the 1980s. During his time at TDM, Leong made reforms that were largely accepted by TDM journalists, including putting TDM cameras in the plenary sessions of the Macau Legislative Assembly.
Leong told the media on Tuesday February 11 that he would be happy to remain in the position if reappointed. The government released a statement several hours later saying that Leong had resigned a week earlier. The Macau Journalists Association (MJ) is concerned that TDM may become a government mouthpiece. The MJ also received several anonymous complaints from TDM journalists regarding the escalation of self-censorship within the news department. The journalists said that sensitive issues are being placed at the end of broadcast news bulletins.
The Macau government has suggested it may relocate TDM to Wangkum or Montanha, newly developed areas that are governed by Chinese law. However, a government spokesperson said there had been no pressure on press freedom and the relocation of TDM was just an idea. Moreover, the news department would not be relocated to the new building.
The IFJ Asia-Pacific office said: “The media is a watchdog. It has a duty to oversee society as well as the performance of government. It is to be doubted whether a civil servant could properly exercise the duties of the leader of a public broadcaster.”
The IFJ also cautions that TDM may not be able to function properly if is it located in an area that lies within the jurisdiction of Mainland China because the rules governing the internet and freedom of access to information are different from the rules in Macau.
We urge Fernando Chui Sai-On, the Chief Executive of the Macau Government, to reconsider the appointment of Manuel Goncalves Pires Junior. We also urge Mr Chui to take concrete actions to defend press freedom and to rethink the expansion of TDM.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific