Another online media in Hong Kong announced its shutdown. James Ockenden, the founder of the English online media Transit Jam, announced on Twitter on Tuesday (May 9) that Transit Jam is to stop operation. No reason was given. However, the suspension came after he was named and accused by local Chinese Communist Party (CCP) media at the end of April as a “proxy and spy under masquerade for foreign agents.”
In addition to local transport focus, Ockenden and Transit Jam also dabbled in current affair exclusives, including organizing rallies on environmental issues. Ockenden petitioned outside the Legislative Council during the visit of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Director Xia Baolong last month (April), demanding the setup of an exclusive pedestrian zone on Queen’s Road Central, the timing of which coincided with his being targeted by local CCP media.
On Tuesday, James Ockenden began posting on Twitter saying he had some “personal news” to share, soon followed it by announcing that the Transit Jam website would be suspended, though still kept as a record source for public search. Ockenden recounted that Transit Jam had published 775 news items on traffic, including 175 detailed traffic fatality reports, plenty of exclusive news, and “eye-catching” reports in the past three years. The public responded to his posts, expressing regrets about seeing the website close and thanking Ockenden for his contributions.
Media Registration Suspended Three Days After Being ‘Doxxed’ and Attacked by Party Media
Launched in 2020, Transit Jam mainly covered traffic news. Its webpage describes itself as “Hong Kong’s first and only registered media dedicated to sustainable transport and road safety.” Ockenden told the English-language online media Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) that Transit Jam’s media registration was revoked on April 23 by the government. The Transit Jam website also shows that it is no longer a registered media under the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance.
Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), visited Hong Kong last month and met with members of the Legislative Council on the morning of April 16.
During this period, Ockenden, on his own, took a roll-up stand with the words “LIBERATE QUEEN’S ROAD CENTRAL” to petition outside the Legco, demanding the establishment of an exclusive pedestrian zone and a cycling track along Queen’s Road Central. It was the only petition during Xia Baolong’s visit to Hong Kong. However, because of police interception, Ockenden was taken to the nearby Tamar Park demonstration area, and the two did not meet. During that time, many police officers stood close guard around him.
Four days later, local CCP media “Wen Wei Po” published a report on the evening of April 20, saying “foreign agents and spies lurking in Hong Kong saw the opportunity” and (they) “launched a ‘wildcat demonstration’ during Xia’s visit to Hong Kong in an attempt to cause chaos.”
Accused of Being a Foreign Agent Trying to Launch a ‘Color Revolution’ in Hong Kong
The report also showed Transit Jam’s post on its Twitter blog on April 16, showing the police on duty near the Legco with the words “the public square does not belong to the public today” and that Ockenden was “suspected of incitement.” The post on Twitter on April 16 is no longer available.
“Wen Wei Po” also criticized Ockenden’s wife, a lawyer, saying she “specializes in cases challenging the Hong Kong government,” her “anti-government stance is obvious,” and “willfully smears the local governance,” and accused Ockenden of being a foreign agent ordered to take over the reins of Jimmy Lai’s former assistant Mark Simon, with the intention of instigating a “color revolution” in Hong Kong.
On the Transit Jam website, Ockenden introduced himself as a graduate of the University of Cambridge with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in natural sciences, and a master’s degree in corporate environmental management from the University of Hong Kong. He is also a writer, journalist, a sustainable development consultant, and is enthusiastic about clean technology and public health.” He has worked as an editor for many years, contributing to South China Morning Post, Cathay Dragon, Dragonair Silk Road magazine, and the like.
Ockenden told HKFP that he has been interested in building safe roads for more than a decade and wrote a related newsletter for an insurance company in 2010. He said that during Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement in 2019, he was engaged in clearing roadblocks. In 2020, based on the lack of news about road traffic in English, he established Transit Jam.
Journalists Recruitment for Road Traffic Issues Stigmatized by Local CCP Media
Looking through the reports in Transit Jam, many of them focused on traffic issues at the district council level.
After the ‘forced resignation’ en masse of pro-democracy district councilors in 2021, Transit Jam reported in July of that year that among the 18 district councils at that time, only five had normal traffic and transportation committees, and only four of them had a chairperson installed. The report mentioned that the committee of the district council dealing with traffic affairs has its functions, including signing approval of road works in accordance with the established procedures of the Transport Department, as well as regular meetings with the police in the district to coordinate and reduce traffic accidents.
Report on Political Issues, Including One on Claudia Mo’s Husband’s Critical Condition
While Transit Jam focused on the transport news in general, it also touched on political issues. For example, it reported on March 19 that there were only three women among the 34 members of the newly established “Chief Executive Policy Team.” From that, it also mentioned the proportion of women represented on the Boards of listed companies in Hong Kong is disappointingly low.
In addition, Transit Jam posted on its Twitter on Feb.9 an exclusive report that 80-year-old Philip Bowring, husband of Claudia Mo, one of the defendants in the “47 case” in the pro-democracy primary elections, was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) due to pneumonia. It also quoted sources referring to the hope that the authorities will allow Mo to visit.
The report subsequently aroused the attention of the outside world. 54 members of the British Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, including former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten, signed a joint letter requesting British Foreign Minister James Cleverly to negotiate with the Hong Kong government to release Mo, as Mo’s husband and children are all British citizens. Mo herself renounced her British citizenship because she participated in the Legislative Council election in 2012. The co-signers believe that the British government had the responsibility to intervene in the incident so that Mo could be released from prison as soon as possible to visit her husband.
Interference From Police on Protest of Unlicenced Concrete Factory
Ockenden launched a demonstration on Feb. 4 to protest the unlicensed operation of a concrete factory owned by China Concrete Co., Ltd. in Yau Tong District. When he was interviewed at the time, he believed that the incident reflected a bigger issue of “governance” rather than “environment.” He criticized the poor government oversight of developers, construction companies, and their suppliers, resulting in some of the most dangerous workplaces in the developed world.
However, even though the parade was one of the first protest activities after the government relaxed the restrictions on gatherings, and even though only about ten people participated, the police still sent a contingent of uniformed and plainclothes police officers along the way. Ockenden expressed to foreign media that he was dissatisfied with the police arrangement. He said that he was asked by the police to limit the parade to no more than 30 people, otherwise, he might be charged with illegal assembly and face up to five years in prison. He felt quite stressed about the need to manage the number of people. In addition, the police checked the ID cards of all the participants, their banners, and leaflets and videotaped the event that day, which Ockenden described as quite unnerving.
Many Media Outlets Closed Under the Threat of National Security Law and Sedition Crime
Since the enactment of the “Hong Kong National Security Law,” “Apple Daily” was first forced to suspend operations in June 2021. In December of the same year, six senior and former senior executives of the online media “Stand News” were arrested on suspicion of violating the crime of “conspiring to publish seditious materials,” with its operation suspended immediately. Just two weeks later, at least seven independent online media outlets from the non-establishment camp ceased operations one after another, including Citizen News, Mad Dog Daily, Hong Kong In-media, IBHK Store, Dare Media HK, Polymer, and White Night.
Now that Hong Kong is “returning to normal” after the pandemic, one more media outlet is closed for good.
From The Epoch Times