Li Gang, who heads the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Macau, said Sunday that everyone including officials have the freedom to refuse to answer reporters’ questions.
He also said that Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On and his government communicate with the public “a great deal”.
Li made the remarks to reporters on the sidelines of a public event in Largo do Senado to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Li is the central government’s most senior representative in Macau.
Asked by reporters for his comments on local reporters trying to ask Chui about the central government’s Individual Visits Scheme during a public event at Macau Tower on Saturday but were stopped from doing so by members of his security detail, Li said that while reporters have the right to ask questions, the interviewees have the right not to answer.
An MASTV reporter, who has asked the local to remain anonymous, claims that she sustained injuries to her neck and shoulder after allegedly being pulled away by one of the detail twice.
“We all have our own freedom…although [interviewees who are] officials also have their own freedom to refuse to answer questions [raised by reporters],” Li said, adding, “You [media] cannot demand interviewees to answer…it is not correct that [reporters] are dissatisfied when [the interviewees] do not answer.”
Further asked by reporters as to whether the public’s right to know would be undermined when officials refused to be interviewed by the media and whether officials have the responsibility to answer reporters’ questions, Li said that officials have the same freedom as reporters.
“To guarantee freedom is a core value of Macau…you [reporters] have the freedom [to raise questions], officials have the freedom [to refuse to answer],” Li said, adding, “There is no rule which states it is not correct to refuse to answer [reporters’ questions].”
However, Li added that he was always willing to be asked questions by reporters when he had time.
He also said that the case involving the alleged injuries sustained by the MASTV reporter by a member of Chui’s security detail was an “individual” case which could be due to reasons of security.
“The chief executive and the Macau Special Administration Region government have done a great deal of work to communicate with the public… particularly consulting the public on some significant policies before announcing them, I think this should meet with people’s approval,” Li said.(macaunews/macaupost)