Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and more than 100 other members of Hong Kong's entertainment industry attended a televised rally Monday to protest tabloid journalism they said violated their privacy rights.
The demonstration was sparked by the publication of photos of pop star Gillian Chung changing her clothes after a recent concert in Malaysia. The pictures were on the cover of the weekly Easy Finder magazine.
An agitated Chan said the secretly taken photos of Chung, part of the popular singing duo Twins, encouraged "peeping Tom" behaviour among children.
"Children buy the magazine. They think it's right. They will go back to school and take pictures of girls' underwear," he said. Chung was shown adjusting her bra backstage at the concert in Malaysia's Genting Highlands. Her breasts were not visible. The stars attending Monday's TV special lined up behind a backdrop that said "Privacy. Dignity. Hong Kong People's Business." A tearful Chung, nicknamed "Ah Kiu," thanked her colleagues for their support.
"I hope people don't buy such indecent magazines," she said. Veteran actor-singer Lau said while movie star wrongdoing was fair game, the changing room isn't.
"If Ah Kiu was taking drugs in a room and you took pictures of that. OK. Report that. I'll help you crack down on her, but that's not the case," he said.
Chung on Saturday filed a request for a court injunction ordering Easy Finder to stop publishing its photos of her and to return them to her record label EEG, EEG artist manager Mani Fok said Monday. Chung has reported the matter to both Malaysian and Hong Kong police.
Women's groups have also denounced the cover photos as distasteful. The Hong Kong Journalists' Association said the photos violated professional ethics.
Government regulators have received nearly 2,500 complaints against the magazine cover, spokeswoman Mavis Hui said. Hong Kong's Obscene Articles Tribunal has classified the issue as "indecent," paving the way for possible prosecution.
Easy Finder is part of Hong Kong's Next Media group of publications, known for its aggressive and at times sensationalistic journalism. Next Media, which also publishes the Apple Daily newspaper and Next magazine, hasn't commented publicly on the backlash over Chung's photos.
Media intrusion in star privacy is a lingering issue in Hong Kong, a celebrity-obsessed city with established Chinese-language film and music industries.
The issue was thrust into the limelight four years ago when a magazine was shut down temporarily amid a backlash after it published a cover photo of a visibly distressed, seminude female, widely reported to be Carina Lau, in October 2002.
In 2000, the local newspaper industry formed the self-regulatory Hong Kong Press Council, but critics say it doesn't have enough power. The council can criticize publications and ask them to apologize but has no enforcement ability.
In late 2004, Hong Kong's Law Reform Commission proposed a press regulator backed up by legislation, but journalists opposed it as a threat to press freedom. The body also proposed criminalization of surveillance by private parties earlier this year. Home Affairs Bureau spokeswoman Jessey Kong said the government is still considering the reform body's recommendations.