The group Macau Conscience has urged the public broadcaster TDM to investigate a former news editor-in-chief, who has allegedly sent two insulting letters to a former reporter. The case – dating back to 2011 – was closed by the Public Prosecution Office (MP), since no proof of a criminal threat was found.
Yesterday, Jason Chao and other members of Macau Conscience handed in a petition letter at TDM headquarters, urging the broadcaster to open an internal investigation and to suspend the former news director – who still works for the Chinese channel – while the investigation is being conducted.
However, the president of TDM’s Executive Committee, Manuel Pires, has already released a statement refusing the request. He recalled that the Public Prosecution Office closed the case for the first time back in 2012 and therefore TDM has no intention of launching any kind of measure or further investigations into the case.
Nonetheless, Jason Chao insisted that – even though the MP concluded that no crime had been committed – this is a disciplinary matter: “How could a high-ranking member of TDM threaten frontline journalists? Although these letters were not considered threats [by the MP], Lorman Lo [the former news director in question] should be investigated by TDM.”
The two letters were sent back in 2011 to former TDM journalist Alan Tsu Veng. The first letter titled “Warm Reminder” involved the author telling the journalist that “his actions, if going forward, will cause harm and no benefits. There will be consequences.” A second letter contains highly offensive language, targeting the journalist and even his family.
According to Jason Chao, at the time of the events, a TDM journalist used to write newspaper columns in which he would address self-censorship issues related to TDM’s Chinese channel. The journalist used an alias in the newspaper columns, which was mentioned in one of the letters.
A document issued by the Public Prosecution Office shows that the right thumbprint of Lorman Lo Song Man was found on one of the letters. “The aims, layouts and even typefaces used in the two letters and envelopes are almost identical,” the group alleged.
The prosecutor closed the file a second time last June as the content of both letters did not constitute a crime against life, physical integrity, personal freedom, sexual freedom, property, or assents of considerable value. Nevertheless, Jason Chao reinforced the importance of having an internal investigation launched by TDM, since the freedom of the press is in question: “They should investigate; you journalists should pressure Manuel Pires to do so,” he stressed.
Veteran broadcasting journalist involved in controversy
According to a biographical note released by the University of Macau, Lorman Lo is the former editor-in-chief of TDM’s Chinese TV News Department and “one of the veteran broadcasting journalists in Macau.” The introductory note to a Department of Communication lecture mentioned that Lorman Lo “has extensively covered news events and social issues in Macau and the region, including the Handover of Hong Kong in 1997, the Handover of Macau in 1999 and the Taiwan presidential election in 2000.”