I started working as an independent journalist after the closure of Apple Daily.
People always asked me in these few months, “is it too dangerous to continue reporting now?” It is indeed, especially when people and friends around you are arrested and put on trial. You wake up every morning and do not want to read the news, because you are so afraid and angry to know the truth. It is unbelievable and a bit surreal for me.
Before the Anti-ELAB movement of 2019, you could hardly imagine so many politicians or activists being arrested. And of course, no one could imagine Apple Daily, such a large media group with a thousand employees and 26 years of history, could be closed so abruptly.
After the National Security Law came into effect last year, I have a feeling that we, the Hongkongers, are living like Josef K. in Kafka’s The Trial. You never know if you will be the next one to be put on trial or which law you are breaking because the national security law [NSL] is so vague.
Fear is something not to be conquered, but something to live with in such a place and in such an era.
I believe I will continue to work as a journalist until the day I can go no further. I do not know if I am doing something valuable for society but I will keep on doing it. Reporting on the victims and those involved in the Yuen Long and Prince Edward Station attacks is worthwhile as a record of history. They are people with real flesh and I want to write about them. I want their stories to be remembered. For me, it is not simply news reporting but the writing of history. To allow our next generation to know the truth of what happened in 2019, instead of accepting the ideologies and propaganda exerted by the authorities.
Meanwhile, everybody around you asks you to stop because it’s too risky, but I take recording history as my duty in such a difficult time, especially when the civil society of Hong Kong is dissolving so quickly. Apple Daily is definitely significant in terms of its presence and influence in society, though the loss of it does not mean the loss of freedom of press or speech.
Freedom is not given by the state or any authority but acted out by each individual. We have to act and embrace freedom while we still have the chance to do so. If we are afraid and self-censor ourselves before speaking or writing, then we are really losing our freedom.
That’s the reason I try to continue working as an independent journalist.
My colleagues and I went to hear the trial of our former chief editors and CEO. They were in the dock and we tried to get a glimpse of them. We never knew who would be the next. Looking at them, there is nothing we can do. We are so powerless in such an era, as Hongkongers. But then, we cannot give up. After these two years, we are bound together by shared memories and experience. Even if we do not know each other, we are an imagined community bound by the same fate. And we have no choice but to carry on.
The author is a former Apple Daily reporter writing anonymously to protect their identity from the CCP.