Kiddie Porn In Hong Kong
After almost one week, it is clear by now that the English-language media in Hong Kong are doggedly determined never to mention a word of this affair. By contrast, here is the front page of Oriental Daily on June 24, 2006.
The girl whose photo is on the left is 14-year-old Renee Lee (李蘊) and she is a member of the singing trio known as Cream (note: this is a Hong Kong teenage female band and Eric Clapton has nothing to do with them). The woman on the right is her mother. The words in the middle read: "Wet-bodied Cream girl: Exposing the disgusting deeds of Next Media."
In reading all this, you have to remember that the Oriental/Sun group is the direct competitor of Next Media. So everything that these groups say about each other must be taken with a grain of salt. Therefore, I will attempt here to retell the whole story from day one.
Day one was June 19, 2006, when issue number 752 of Next Media's Easyfinder magazine appeared on the news stands in Hong Kong. Here is the front cover.
The story that corresponds to the front page is a feature article about Renee Lee of the singing trio Cream. Here are the relevant paragraphs of the report.
Renee is about to grow past the age of 'legal protection.' On the day of the photo shoot, even though her manager and mother were present, she deliberately showed that she was a "big girl." She decided on what to wear and she did not need any help in choosing the pose. But even though she looked strong, Renee still exhibited her innocence. As she was putting on her make-up, she asked her manager to buy chocolate. When she stepped into the water, she whined to her mother: "It's very cold!"
When asked if she has a boyfriend, she sneaked a peek at her mother and then said in a low voice to the reporter behind her mother's back: "Sigh! I don't have the time!"
As for being described many times as the "Cecilia Cheung clone," Renee pouted and said, "That's not true! I don't feel that I look her ... her image is not good." But she already knew how to check for signs and when she saw the unhappy look in her manager's eyes, she backtracked and said: "Actually, I quite like her. She's very pretty!"
Although she is still young, Renee is already an attention-getter at school. But the responses from the male and female students are completely opposite. "I know that the female students don't like me. They just point me out in school and say that I am not a pretty girl. The male students are the opposite. They keep calling me and they wait to pick me up after school."
Renee's pretty face attracts not only young boys, but she was the target of a perverted man. "One time, a 30-something-year-old uncle followed me home. After a while, he even got the nerve to ask me if he could take a photograph of me. I said no and I called my mother immediately."
Immediately, the other media were all over this story. Here are some highlights (or lowlights):
(Sing Tao) June 21, 2006.
The Education and Manpower Bureau spokesperson emphasized that the authorities do not accept media publications should use the physique of female students as selling points and they hope the media can discipline themselves.
The Society for Truth and Light general secretary Choi Chi-sum said that the mother did wrong. "I feel that the parents of this girl had better reflect about how they allowed their child to sell her body." He said that even though the girl was not nude, the magazine clearly used her body as the selling point. From the viewpoint of social morals, the magazine should be severely condemned. He was worried that if this trend of showing off the bodies of underage girls continues, society as a whole will have to pay a heavy price.
(Sing Tao) June 22, 2006.
As of June 22, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority has received 44 complaints about the sexy photographs of Renee Lee in Easyfinder magazine. The matter has been referred to the Kwun Tong district Major Crime Unit for investigation. The police will be investigating whether the "Prevention of Children Pornographic Material Regulations" have been violated.
At Renee Lee's school, the principal Mr. Ng told our newspaper that the school has arranged for the student affairs office director and a community social worker to meet with Renee Lee and her mother. He quoted Mrs. Lee that although she was present at the photo shoot, she did not expect that the photograph would have "see-through effect" afterwards. She was astonished and felt deceived ...
Mrs. Lee also claimed that she was originally invited for an interview with Next Magazine, but the report then appeared in Easyfinder Magazine. The reporter originally asked Renee and her mother to choose some clothes that show up well under sunshine, but when they arrived at the scene, there were some sexy clothes instead ...
(Oriental Daily) June 23, 2006.
... Renee Lee broke her silence yesterday and was interviewed alongside her mother. Mrs. Lee lambasted Easyfinder Magazine for repeatedly lying during the filming. The mother and daughter had been tricked and did not realize that until they read the magazine. Mrs. Lee pointed out that the magazine exchanged the originally prepared clothing with three cloth-like bikinis and then continuously sprayed water on her hair and body, so that there was the impression of body shapes underneath the thick chest pad. Renee Lee said: "I feel completely deceived. I was betrayed! (完全覺得畀人呃，畀人出賣！)"
According to Mrs. Lee, a Next Magazine reporter contacted her on June 16 for an interview with Renee. Since Cream had been previously interviewed by that magazine, Mrs. Lee agreed.
The next day, Mrs. Lee, her daughter and a representative from Cream's management company went to the Next Media office. Eight reporters claimed all along that they were interviewing Renee on behalf of Next Magazine. During the filming, the reporters showed Mrs. Lee two youth dresses and she thought that they were okay and agreed that Renee could wear them. Then the group traveled to Taipo for the outdoor filming.
But when Renee arrived at the scene, apart from the one dress that was pre-agreed upon, there were three other "extremely sexy" that were just small pieces of cloth for Renee to wear. Mrs. Lee questioned the reporter: "The clothing is just like pieces of cloth. How come?" But the other party said, "Try it on first! Let's see what the effect is." And then repeatedly, "Trust me! If you don't like it, we won't publish it."
After Mrs. Lee complained many times, the reporter finally agreed to let Renee wear something on the outside. But during the filming, the reporter pointed out that the outer dress looked like a sleeping gown and asked her to remove it. The worst thing was that Renee was already standing in the stream for the photo, but the reporters continued to spray water on her hair and clothes to create a "wet body" effect which they said was better. Mrs. Lee asked the magazine reporters not to publish those photographs and the reporters swore that that this was not a problem. But it turned out that those photographs were published as full-page photographs.
When Renee and her mother saw the published report, they then realized that Renee had "stupidly" become the front page cover of Easyfinder magazine. Furthermore, the magazine deliberately chose those photographs in which Renee was not smiling and they used the computer to alter the background in order to create the sexy effect. As for the interview contents, Renee, her mother and the manager were "stunned." The comments about Cecilia Cheung, her fame at her school and her exchange with the reporter were all fictional.
Renee Lee said: "This Easyfinder magazine issue was making stuff up! I believe that I was set up, deceived and betrayed." She has asked her management company's lawyer to send a letter to Easyfinder to demand an explanation and apology. Mrs. Lee said, "I did not get a cent from them, and this was not a promotion for a concert. I cannot believe that they would treat a little girl that way! I will never accept another interview from Easyfinder, not even Next Media. I am afraid that they will lie again!"
(The Sun) June 24, 2006.
According to the Oriental Daily News public opinion survey center, 78% of the citizens believe that Easyfinger's publication of a female child's wet-body pajamas photos constitutes pornography. The survey covers 783 respondents. 41% of the citizens believe that exhibiting underage female children will affect the values of children and youth; 25% of the citizens believe that Easyfinder's actions is fanning child pornograph; and 25% belive that young female children may be the target of sexual molestation as a result.
(The Sun) June 24, 2006.
Ever since Easyfinder magazine published the wet-body sexy photographs of Renee Lee on the front cover and inside pages, Renee and her mother have been extremely disturbed. Under the pressure, Renee is crying because of the betrayal by Next Media. Her daily life has been interrupted. She is worried about being surreptiously photographed at home and she must hear a mask while going to school so that no one can point her out in the street and gossip. Renee's mother said that her daughter has suffered unnecessary pressure and she considered herself responsible. Therefore, she has been sleepless. When she was interviewed by this newspaper last evening, her suppressed pressure exploded and she began to cry ...
(The Sun) June 24, 2006.
The heart of Apple Daily's Jimmy Lai is more poisonous than a green bamboo snake or a yellow bee. People know that both of those things are poisonous and must be avoided. But Fat Man Lai is a fake who sometimes pretends that he is a democracy fighter who gets out into the street and uses his megaphone to urge people to march; other times, he acts as a dedicated believer who wears a religious cloak. But this man who claims to be democratic and religious is peddling kiddie porn and therefore even more poisonous than the snakes and bees. How can a 14-year-old innocent child such as Renee Lee be put on the front page of Easyfinder? How can the sexy pajamas and the even more revealing text presenting the innocent Form 2 student be mixed with filth when she is still immature? When children read this piece of pornography, they may think that everything is correct and instructive. So when they are misled by these examples from the pornographic media, can you say how poisonous this is!
Now that you have read the hundreds of words above. It all boils down to ... show the photographs!
So here are the photographs that launched millions of words. What do you think? You are the public ... you decide ...
(SCMP) Uproar at photos of teenage singer. By Donald Asprey. June 30, 2006.
The publication in a magazine of photographs of a 14-year-old female pop singer in a wet T-shirt and striking sexy poses has prompted 138 complaints to the Telecommunications and Entertainment Licensing Authority.
Kwun Tong police are investigating whether pictures of teenybopper Renee Lee Wan, a member of the pop trio Cream, published on the front and inside pages of last week's edition of Easyfinder magazine, violate the Prevention of Child Pornographic Materials Regulations.
The photographs and the article, which portrays Renee as an attention-seeker out to prove she is a "big girl", have outraged parent and children's rights groups.
Shirley Wong Wai-kwan, executive director of the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation, said Renee had been exploited by the magazine for cheap thrills. "Whether it is pornographic from a legal perspective is not very clear, but from our perspective it depends on the reaction of the viewers," she said. "We received one complaint from a parent quoting men who had bought the magazine as describing the 14-year-old as `fine' and `sexy'. It is obvious this child has been exposed to the dangers of sexual exploitation and abuse." Ms Wong urged the public to show their disgust by shunning such publications.
Unicef Hong Kong spokeswoman Fennie Chan Mei-yi said UN conventions stipulate a child should be protected against all forms of exploitation, and urged local media and parents to exercise greater care in protecting children. "The mass media should pay attention to moral standards and a sense of social responsibility when it releases material, and parents should have the responsibility to protect the well-being and development of the child. The best interests of the child should be their main concern," Ms Chan said.
Renee's mother, who was present at the photo shoot, has claimed she was duped by the magazine about the content of the article and photographs it intended to publish, and claims it had promised to withhold them if she objected. Renee has temporarily withdrawn from public engagements, apparently to study for exams. Her management company has issued a writ against Next Media Group, owners of Easyfinder magazine.
Kenneth Leung Wai-yin, a professor of journalism at Chinese University and a member of the Hong Kong Press Council, said the public was making a mountain out of a molehill. "Although I admit I have only seen them in black and white, I don't understand why everybody is calling them obscene," said Professor Leung. "Quite frankly, you see more revealing clothing on the beach."
Next Media Group did not respond to a request for comment. The article has been removed from Easyfinder's website.