Sat, Dec 18, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Journalists move against Hon Hai over court action

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS The nation's association for journalists says enough is enough

STAFF WRITER

The nation's largest electronics company by sales, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), is facing all-out war with the Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ) over a newspaper story published in April which Hon Hai claims will cost the company NT$30 million.

In May, Hon Hai sought an order from the Taipei District Court freezing the assets of the journalist who wrote the story as part of a compensation claim of NT$30 million.

The action by Hon Hai was taken after Joyce Kung (曠文琪), a business reporter at the Chinese-language Commercial Times, wrote the story in late April which revealed Hon Hai's quotes for connectors at US$7 apiece.

The connectors were to be used in a yet-to-be-launched Intel computer platform. Hon Hai viewed the story as detrimental to its marketing strategy, and one that would trigger price ambushes from rivals.

The court agreed, and the injunction has seen Kung's salary cut by 33 percent per month since June.

On leave with pay, Kung is abroad and could not be contacted. In a statement to the ATJ, she urged better communication between companies and the media.

Condemning Hon Hai's injunction as an instance of corporate encroachment on press freedom, the ATJ said it asked Hon Hai to withdraw the injunction by Wednesday this week, but it had received no response from the company, according to a statement on its Web site.

Consequently, the ATJ announced on Thursday it had started a petition with a target of 10,000 signatures by Wednesday next week to exert pressure on Hon Hai.

"That Hon Hai did not seek an injunction against the Commercial Times and its management, but instead targeted the reporter is obviously an attempt to intimidate journalists and has nothing to do with the pursuit of legal protection. Such `great whale versus small shrimp' behavior is hardly convincing," the ATJ said on its Web site.

In addition, the organization plans to call on international electronics vendors -- including Dell, Sony, Nokia Oyj and Hewlett-Packard -- to stop farming out orders to Hon Hai.

Hon Hai, which makes Play-Station 2 video-game consoles for Sony and personal computers for Dell, also has plants in Hungary and the Czech Republic for the assembly of mobile phones for Nokia.

As a member of the International Federation of Journalists, the ATJ said it formally asked the federation to commence international protest action against Hon Hai.

The ATJ also said it would contact journalist groups around the world in relation to the matter.

The ATJ said that it had avoided taking any action that might influence Hon Hai's business operations.

But it said that it had to now remind Terry Guo (郭台銘), chairman and CEO of Hon Hai, of the negative impact caused by litigation -- commonly seen in the business world -- on journalists.

Calls to Hon Hai spokesman Edmund Ding (丁祁安) had not been returned at press time last night.

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