New Macau hosts first authorized public protest since pandemic onset

Last Saturday, the New Macau Association (ANM) held the first public protest green-lighted by local authorities since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
The protest, held at the door of local public broadcaster Teledifusão de Macau (TDM), aimed to express support for press freedom in Macau, while criticizing recently issued editorial guidelines that, according to the group, interfere with journalists’ editorial independence.
According to the Public Security Police Force (PSP), the protest took place at Rua de Francisco Xavier Pereira and lasted for about 90 minutes.
In a statement, the PSP also noted that the gathering had about 20 participants “who paraded peacefully and were able to express their opinions, having delivered a petition letter to the TDM representatives.”
The police said they deployed 12 police officers to maintain public order, adding, “the meeting was held in an orderly manner, and the process went smoothly with the participants leaving the place gradually and in a peaceful manner.”
In a different statement, the TDM also acknowledged the protest, stating, “TDM respects the exercise of legitimate rights, but reiterates that [the company] provides a public service of television and radio broadcasting, as a media organization of the Macau Special Administrative Region, [and in such quality] assumes its social responsibility, with the implementation of press freedom enshrined in the Macau SAR Basic Law.”
In the protest, several members of the ANM, including lawmaker Sulu Sou, held banners calling for the “Non-censorship of news in TDM,” for the “Safeguard of press freedom” and to “Face the government [in the implementation of rules that violate press freedom].”
In a statement, the organizers also noted the important role of the press in inspecting the actions of the government as well as in disclosing relevant information to alert the population to social issues.
The ANM drew particular attention to the cases that occurred in the last few years where they believe the freedom of press was suppressed, such as in the political reform consultation in 2012, after Typhoon Hato in 2017, during the event of Macau SAR establishment day in 2019, and the many cases where reporters from Hong Kong were banned to enter Macau over the years.
For the association, “as a publicly-funded organization wholly owned by the government, TDM should strictly ensure that its reporters are not restricted to report the truth, different opinions, and comments. It shows that the government respects press freedom, accepts the supervision of the media and the public, and does not conceal mistakes.”
Previous notices for public gatherings expressing views on several matters were deauthorized by the authorities in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, claiming contagion risks and non-compliance with the Covid-19 prevention and control measures.

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