Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Macau: Netizen charged for reporting on Bank Run

On September 24, there was a bank run in the Wing Hang Bank in Macau as the customers believed that the bank was caught in the sub-prime related financial crisis.

A netizen, city hermit, later known to be a school teacher, passed through a bank branch at Nova Aterro da Areia Preta and wrote down what he witnessed in a local forum, with his personal reflections on the financial crisis, when he was back home. However, according to Macao Daily's report, the netizen was summoned in October 8 and charged with two criminal offenses in “fabricating dangerous information” (濫用虛構危險訊號)and “sedition of collective violation” (煽動集體違令). The Ministerio Publico da Regiao Administrativa Especial de Macau (the public ministry of the special regional administration of Macau) found there was lack of evidence in the two charges and handed the case back to the police for future investigation.

On the evening of October 8, city hermit reports in the forum that he was charged by the bank for criminal libel.

So what exactly has city hermit said? Let's look at the post at cyberctm:

永亨銀行擠提
今晚,永亨銀行擠提,黑沙環支行擠滿提款人群,近十名警察在場維持秩序,銀行職員派籌明天取款,約有三百人排隊.
永亨銀行近年風頭很勁,股票從原來的十幾二十元一度升到七十多元.
永亨銀行也是本澳天主教學校發薪水的銀行(鄙人不幸也是其中一員),若該行出事,影響甚巨!
心情很壞!不知如何是好.
估計又是買了太多次按資產所致.
銀行方面說是謠言,希望是吧.
多年來省吃儉用,到頭來一場空,還不如做個月光族,活得瀟灑.
唉,人民是多麼脆弱啊!我們象螞蟻般一點點積蓄的可憐的財產,大鰐們輕易就給剝奪掉!
唉,希望不是真的啦!

Bank Run in Wing Hang Bank
Tonight, there was a bank run in the Wing Hang Bank, in the branch at Nova Aterro da Areia Preta. A crowd of bank customers tried to withdraw money from the bank. Around 10 policemen were on the spot to keep the order. The bank staff gave out appointment tickets for the customers. There were around 300 of them lining up for the tickets.
Wing Hang Bank has had a very high profile in recent year. Their stock rose from 10 – 20 dollars to 70 dollars.
Wing Hang is also handling salaries for all Catholic schools in Macau (unfortunately I am one of the staff members). If something happens to this bank, the impact would be huge.
I feel really bad and don't know what to do.
Probably the bank run is related to the sub-prime crisis.
The bank said it is a rumor, let's hope so.
People save their deposits through hard work and by repressing their consumption, now it is like an empty dream. It is better to spend all the money and live lightly.
Oh, people are so fragile, we store our savings like ants, while the crocodiles grab the money away so easily.
Oh, I hope all these are not real!

City hermit keeps updating his status at cyberctm and receives more than 700 comments, many showing their support.

User 1loveU1314 said

港澳已經越來越CCTV化, 吾好下下用老米個套資訊新聞自由, 呢度吾WORK架,

鋤你就一個莫須有, 已經搞掂你

Both Hong Kong and Macau are becoming more and more CCTV, now the slogan of freedom of press doesn't work any more. They don't even need to give you a reason for “handling” you.

User 八哥仔 said

咁好得人怕喎,其實有物係講得呀???!!!
好多發言都係自己的分析,自己有感而發的……真係無奈

This is really frightening, what can we talk about then??!!!!
When we talk, we tend to add our own analysis and our own feeling… so helpless.

User 666 commented that:

上面要和諧, 要[教訓]一下D刁民, 但又冇野入, 咪的人上去煩下囉..

下面就明知係多鳩餘, 咪例行問下, 放人囉…

情況將會係咁, 冇乜野需要擔心

People from the upper rank want to punish disobedient citizens, but they don't have any concrete charges, so they decide to create trouble and waste your time…
People from the lower ranks need to fulfill their duty, so they just do their job, ask you questions and let you go.
The situation will go on like this, no need to worry about it.

User cheese lobster was worried about user privacy issue:

藉此睇黎澳門已經無曬言論自由,白色恐怖,另外真係無私隱,cXm交個名俾司警,即係網路世界與現實世界掛勾,講左=做左,係網上呻窮話想去打劫,可能會被控告入埋罪坐埋監,依家真係諗野都唔俾,唉……

We don't have anymore freedom of speech in Macau, there is only white terror. We also don't have privacy, cXm gave the user information to the police, which means the virtual world and the real world are directly connected, what has been said = to what has been done. On the internet, if you said you are poor and want to rob a bank, probably you would get charged and put into jail. We have been banned from the mere act of thinking…

User udus:

呢d分明喺屍警濫用公權,
不過澳門d公務員喺為為金權服務嘅,
唔係為巿民服務嘅,
發生d咁嘅事最無辜嘅係d無權勢嘅巿,
又浪費時間又要背負精神壓力,
唔該d有牌爛仔做野有d分寸啦.

It is obvious that the police has abused their power.
In Macau, most civil servants are serving for power and money, not for citizens.
This kind of incident would only affect ordinary people they have to waste their time and take up the pressure. i hope the police gang can be more reasonable in their actions.

Since the mainstream reports failed to report the netizen side of the story, a new website, The Truth is out Here, has been created to criticize mainstream reports and to monitor freedom of speech and expression in Macau:

澳門的真相是一個針對澳門傳媒,揭露他們惡行的檔案式網站;使其所作所為被記錄下來讓世人知道。澳門的真相不是新聞網站亦不是雜誌式或即時報料網站。

但當有相關的重大事件發生時,澳門的真相亦不排除按情況擔當即時資訊平台。

為保持網站的可信性及客觀性,同時亦避免網站捲入爭議,一般情況下,網站不主張登出未經證實的事件或傳聞。如有需要登出未經正實的資料,網站亦會明確註明。

我們的目的,是要抗衡澳門某些傳媒多年來誤導公眾的現象。

The Truth is Out There aims to monitor the mainstream media in Macau. It is not a news website nor a web magazine but an archive for documenting and commenting on biased reports.

If there is major incident, the website can also serve as a platform for information flow.

In order to keep the website's credibility and objectivity, we would try to stay away from debate and will not post un-confirmed information or rumors. If there is un-confirmed information, there will be a footnote.

Our objective is to counter mainstream media's misleading and bias reports.

On the city hermit case, mainstream reports on October 10 took it as a fact that the “city hermit” had posted “invalid speech”. The Truth is Out Here pointed out that:

但文章中完全沒有提及或避開一個核心重點:”城市隱者”在討論區發出有關消息之前,擠提已出現;而不是”城市隱者”發貼後擠提才被引發。

The articles have omitted an essential point: before “city hermit” posted the information on the web, the bank run had already happened. “City hermit”‘s post did not trigger the bank run.

On October 11, a Macau Daily article said that a netizen accused “city hermit” for spreading rumors. The Truth is Out Here pointed out that:

真相是,當時網上言論,是一面倒支持”城市隱者”,認為”城市隱者”在網上反映擠提現場的實況不應構成任何罪行。而持相反意見者在眾多網友中只佔三、幾個。而澳門日報就選擇性地引用了”少數意見”來評擊”城市隱者” “散佈別有用心的謠言”。而其他意見隻字不提。

The truth is, on the internet most of the netizens supported “city hermit” and said the report and comment on the bank run should not be regarded as a crime. There are only very few oppositional voices and the Macau Daily has selectively chosen these minority voices to attack “city hermit” for “spreading rumor with hidden intention” while omitting all other opinions.

According to city hermit, he is now consulting a lawyer to defend him in the case and will consider suing the bank in return. Further updates will be posted in the comment.

5 comments

  • Wow, this is really an incredible story…

  • This is fascinating stuff – thank you for posting up – hard for me to imagine getting charged for writing up views like this… what would they do with Robert Peston?? (BBC’s economics blogger)

  • Yeah, Macau’s situation is much worse than Hong Kong (although we also have two cases on Internet bank run rumors now…)

  • […] A school teacher passed through a bank in Macau where a group of people were trying to withdraw all their money in fear of the financial crisis. At home, he wrote his brief reflections on what he saw in an online forum, only to be charged by the police for “fabricating dangerous information”, and later to be sued by the bank for criminal libel. [link] […]

  • The type and quantity of bank run activity has perilously increased the past two months, as dropping equities and vanishing liquidity force the hand of banks globally. We have allowed leverage to become a commodity that every financial institution has a right to, and it has undermined everything that banks should stand for.

Cancel this reply

Join the conversation -> Chris Salzberg

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.