Celebrity Heavyweights Weigh in to Hong Kong Snooping Row

Hong Kong’s celebrity and political heavyweights joined a storm of protest after a Hong Kong pop star was secretly photographed semi-nude by a tabloid-style magazine. ??

Kung fu movie star Jackie Chan and heartthrob actor Tony Leung led a protest at government offices calling for curbs on the media as outrage grew over the publication of the photographs of Canto-pop star Gillian Chung. ??

At the same time, political leader Donald Tsang and legislators vowed to review law proposals that would curb stalkers and snoopers. ??

"We call on the media to put down their knives and stop corrupting the morals of the youth," Leung told reporters at a protest at the gates of the government’s downtown offices. ??

"We call on the public to boycott these sorts of magazines," he added, reading from a prepared statement, and standing next to a grim-faced Chan and supporters all dressed in black protest tee-shirts. ??

The photos, taken while Chung — one half of the chart-topping duo Twins — was changing costumes backstage at a concert in Malaysia, have sparked protests by fellow celebrities and women’s groups. ??

Chung’s Twins partner Charlene Choi was at the protest, but she said nothing. ??

The magazine, the weekly glossy Easy Finder, showed Chung’s back naked except for her bra straps. No intimate part of her body was revealed. ??

An obscenity hearing last week censured the publishers, Next Group Media, owned by tycoon Jimmy Lai, and ordered the edition be removed from news-stands. ??

However, Easy Finder, which like a dozen or so other such publications trades on celebrity gossip, had already sold all copies of its second reprint after the first run — an estimated 90,000 copies — sold out within days. ??

Chief executive Tsang leant political weight to the protest when he took time out to express his anger at the scandal. ??

"I agree with the criticism of the photo," Tsang told reporters. "I believe there is a need to strike a balance between press freedom and privacy. We will launch a fresh round of discussions (on privacy laws)." ??

He said he would look over a recommendation made in March by a commission on law reform that suggested two new legislative proposals be introduced to prevent media invasion of privacy. ??

Legislators are due to debate privacy laws when they reconvene in September at the end of the summer recess. ??

Chung Monday launched a legal suit against Easy Finder claiming damages and demanding it hand over all copies of the photos.

She then appeared in tears on a special TV broadcast Monday along with 300 actors and pop stars denouncing press invasion and to call for a boycott of the magazine. ??

At the protest Chan said the Easy Finder magazine and other like it were a threat to freedom of expression in the southern Chinese city. ??

"Easy Finder in every way impinges on the freedoms of citizens and artists in order to make money," Chan said. ??

"We call on the government to toughen penalties against media wrongdoing," he added. ??

Hong Kong’s highly competitive mass media are notorious for doing all they can to get a scoop and have often been accused of prying in the process. ??

In 2002, Chan launched a protest against glossy Three Weekly magazine after it published naked pictures of pop star-actress Carina Lau allegedly taken at a time when she had been kidnapped and raped by triads. ?

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