[WORLD NEWS ★★]
HONG KONG PHOTOGRAPHER TO FACE TRIAL IN THAILAND
(P1) A Hong Kong photographer DETAINED in Thailand for carrying a BULLETPROOF jacket and HELMET will face trial after pleading NOT GUILTY on Monday to a weapons possession charge.
(P2) The case has SPARKED an OUTCRY from media freedom groups, who say JOURNALISTS should not be punished for carrying BODY ARMOUR and PROTECTIVE GEAR in and out of dangerous zones.
(P3) Anthony Kwan Hok-chun, who works for the Hong Kong-based Initium media group, was held briefly on 23 August after trying to leave from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport with a FLAK JACKET and helmet in his hand luggage.
(P4) Both items are CLASSIFIED as weapons under Thai law and Kwan was charged with BREACHING the Arms Control Act, which is punishable by up to five years in jail.
(P5) He was in Thailand to cover the AFTERMATH of August’s DEADLY Bangkok bombing.
(P6) Kwan told reporters on Monday after the hearing at the Samut Prakan court, near Bangkok, that he DENIED the charge. “I don’t think that a flak jacket is a weapon and I definitely didn’t know it was illegal here,” he said.
(P7) His PLEA means he will face a trial starting next month. The court granted Kwan BAIL and his lawyer later said he was free to leave the kingdom until the trial. “I think everyone in my situation would be a little bit concerned. I’m preparing for the worst but hoping for the best,” Kwan added.
(P8) Thailand’s classification of protection equipment as a weapon that requires a licence has been criticised by media groups, who say they are VITAL PIECES OF KIT for reporters in a country where political violence routinely SPILLS onto the streets.
(P9) About 10 PROTESTERS, mostly journalists, RALLIED in Hong Kong on Monday outside a building that houses Thailand’s CONSULATE, calling for the case against Kwan to be dropped.
(P10) “This was UNREASONABLE. Journalists face all kinds of situations and sometimes it can be dangerous. Anthony carried a bulletproof vest to protect himself and he was not the first one to do so,” said Ho Ka-tat, the vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association.
(P11) The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, in a statement late on Sunday, also expressed disappointment at the charge.
(P12) “Thai authorities should consult with the media community … to explore a way around the 1987 law, which was surely not intended to PROSECUTE journalists carrying out their normal duties,” the statement said.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- In many countries, journalism is among the most dangerous jobs. Why is this true?
- Relationships between many countries in East Asia are often quite TENSE. Why is this true?
- Has this been any recent “political violence” in your native country?
- Legal scholars often point out that there can be a difference between “THE LETTER OF THE LAW” VS. “THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW.” How is that true in this case?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Not guilty
- Body armour
- Protective gear
- Flak jacket
- Piece of kit
- Letter and spirit of the law