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FCCHK Condemns Malaysia’s Arrest and Deportation of Australian TV Crew

FCCHK Condemns Malaysia’s Arrest and Deportation of Australian TV Crew


The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong condemns the arrest and subsequent deportation of a television crew from Australia’s ABC Four Corners after they tried to question Prime Minister Najib Razak over an alleged corruption scandal.

Reporter Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu were arrested in the city of Kuching on Saturday night, after approaching Mr Najib on the street, ABC said. Both were deported today after they were told there would be no charges, the station said.

Both crew members were initially held for “failing to comply with police instructions not to cross the security line,” according to a Malaysian police statement cited by AFP. The program’s executive producer Sally Neighbour denied the crew had committed any offence and said on Twitter that the arrest was related to the crew’s reporting of corruption allegations involving Mr. Najib.

This is not the first instance of official intimidation of foreign media reporting on the 1MDB scandal, while domestic media outlets who dared to cover bribery allegations against Mr. Najib have have been targeted.

Just this week. Malaysian Insider — a leading Malaysian news website that was blocked by the government following critical coverage of Mr. Najib – announced it was shutting down.

The FCCHK urges Malaysian authorities to allow all journalists to carry out their duties in the country without fear of arrest, threats and abuse. Malaysia is ranked 147th out 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, lower than Myanmar and Bangladesh, a pitiful reflection of curbs on media freedom in the Southeast Asia democracy.

Only by realising the value of a free and unfettered media will Malaysia’s leaders be able to dispel such allegations of corruption and win the confidence of the international community. We urge the authorities to desist from harassing bona fide foreign correspondents working in the country.

Press Freedom Committee


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Yang Jisheng Speech at Nieman

The following is a speech Chinese journalist and author Yang Jisheng, 75, was planning to deliver at Harvard. Mr. Yang was awarded the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism by the university’s Nieman fellows. He was barred from travel to the United States to receive the award in person. The speech (both in Chinese and the translated version in English) was published by the Niemen Foundation on its website. The FCC, Hong Kong relays it as a service to the media community; any views expressed are not necessarily shared by the FCC, Hong Kong.


Yang Jisheng Speech Transcript


I thank the Nieman class of 2016 for giving me the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. I feel overwhelmed by the weight of the words “conscience” and “integrity,” but they serve to encourage and spur me on.


The Nieman fellows are all distinguished journalists. I fervently love the profession of journalism. After more than forty years of being tempered in this position, and based on my experience and observation, this is how I evaluate journalism as a profession:


This is a despicable profession that can confuse right and wrong, reverse black and white, manufacture monstrous falsehoods and dupe an audience of millions.


This is a noble profession that can point out the ills of our times, uncover the darkness, castigate evil, advocate for the people and take on the responsibility of social conscience.


This is a banal profession that evades conflict, ignores questions of right or wrong, plays it safe and willingly serves as a mouthpiece of the powerful.


This is a sacred profession that cherishes all under heaven, contemplates eternal questions, criticizes the political situation, monitors the government, communicates with society and makes the news media the Fourth Estate.


This is a shallow profession that anyone can take on, requiring only the ability to write a coherent narrative and a minimum of knowledge, demanding no brilliant insights but only obedience and submission.


This is an unfathomable profession; while journalists are not scholars, they’re required to study and gain a comprehensive grasp of society. Any journalist, no matter how erudite and insightful, will feel unequal to the task of decoding this complex and ever-changing society.


This is a safe and comfortable profession that gives journalists access to palace balconies and the corridors of power, that lets them attend lavish receptions and gala celebrations, interview important officials and meet the rich and famous, ride the crest of success and enjoy limitless fame.


Journalists can barter their essays and influence into positions of power and wealth.


This is a difficult and dangerous profession. Quite apart from war correspondents who spend their time dodging hails of bullets, even in a peacetime, investigating and searching for the truth involves arduous journeys and immense obstacles in the war against tyranny and evil. A journalist who touches a sore spot of the power establishment brings disaster upon his or her head.


This is a profession that is despicable and noble, banal and sacred, shallow and profound, all depending on the conscience, character and values of the individual journalist. The truly professional journalist will choose the noble, sacred, profound and perilous, and remain aloof from the despicable, mundane, shallow and comfortable.


But there is no chasm, wall or pathway that demarcates the despicable from the noble or the banal from the sacred; all of this is left to the journalist to discern. A journalist who takes the pathway of darkness will be nailed to history’s pillar of shame, his own words used as indelible evidence against him. “Debasement is the password of the base, Nobility the epitaph of the noble.” (1) This mordant credo, very much in vogue in the journalistic profession, can make a journalist veer onto the road of dishonor unless he forges on toward heroic self-sacrifice.


This is my understanding of conscience and integrity in journalism.


Insisting on being a journalist with conscience and integrity carries risks. When giving a lecture to a class of journalism students, I passed along a tip for avoiding danger: “Ask for nothing and fear nothing, and position yourself between heaven and earth.” By asking for nothing I mean not hoping for promotion or wealth; by fearing nothing I mean examining one’s own behavior and not exposing a “pigtail” for anyone to grab. Don’t rely on the powerful, but rather on your own character and professional independence. These three methods greatly reduce risk.


Since China embarked on Reform and Opening, many journalists of conscience and integrity have emerged. In the face of enormous impediments they’ve reported the truth, chastised evil and moved Chinese society forward. They aren’t attending this ceremony tonight, but they should share in its honor.


I’ve retired now and can no longer work as a journalist, so I write historical works as a “journalist of past events.” Yesterday’s news is today’s history. What news and history have in common is that both must be true and credible. Credibility is the lifeblood of both news and history. China’s historians have always put an emphasis on the ethics of history: fidelity to unvarnished historical fact, both positive and negative. Every age has included historians who consider it their responsibility to provide an honest record, and who consider distortion a disgrace. Many historians have preserved their moral integrity at the cost of their lives. Influenced by the spirit of China’s historians, I’ve recorded major events that I personally experienced: the Great Famine, the Cultural Revolution, Reform and Opening. We must remember not only the good things, but also the bad; not only the brightness, but also the darkness. I want people to remember man-made disaster, darkness and evil so they will distance themselves from man-made disaster, darkness and evil from now on.


My book Tombstone recorded a horrific man-made disaster that lasted for several years. Although it could only be published in Hong Kong and remains banned in China, truth-loving people have found various means and channels to distribute it throughout mainland China. Pirated editions of Tombstone are being sold from the hinterlands of the Central Plains to the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau to the Xinjiang frontier. I’ve received letters from readers all over China expressing their fervent and unwavering support. This shows the power of truth to break through the bronze walls and iron ramparts constructed by the government.


Fact is a powerful bomb that blasts lies to smithereens. Fact is a beacon in the night that lights the road of progress. Fact is the touchstone of truth; there can be no truth without facts.


Journalists are the recorders, excavators and defenders of truth.


Finally I would like to join with all of you in this prayer for the journalistic profession: May the sunlight of conscience and integrity shine upon the desks of all journalists and writers. May more works be published that awaken the conscience of humanity and allow the light of justice to shine on every corner of the earth.


Translated by Stacy Mosher


(1) This line is from the poem “The Answer” by Bei Dao, translated by Bonnie S. McDougall from The August Sleepwalker. Bei Dao wrote the poem while participating in the 1976 Tiananmen demonstrations.


Published on:
March 11, 2016

FCC Dress Code

Whilst not wishing to interfere with members’ enjoyment and relaxation, and bearing in mind the vagaries of fashion, it is difficult to be specific, so the Club relies on the good sense and discretion of members to dress appropriately given the venue or event, day of the week and time of day. A few guidelines:

  1. Dining Room & Verandah: Members are requested to dress at least to a standard perhaps best described as smart casual. A shirt with a collar is expected; wearing shorts and beach shoes is not considered acceptable.
  2. Chinese Restaurant: Members are requested to dress at least to a standard perhaps best described as casual-to-smart, but wearing shorts and beach footwear is considered unacceptable.
  3. Bert’s: Members are requested to dress at least to a standard perhaps best described as casual-to-smart Monday to Friday, and casual on Saturdays, Sundays and Public holidays.
  4. Main Bar/Lounge: Casual, which means wearing shorts, a T-shirt or beach footwear is allowed.
  5. All Venues: Wearing a singlet is considered unacceptable in any of the above locations.

FCC Statement on Withdrawal of Charges Against HK Photojournalist

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong welcomes Thailand’s decision to drop criminal charges against photojournalist Anthony Kwan. Mr. Kwan had been arrested last August and accused of violating the country’s “weapons” law, for carrying protective body armour and a helmet.

He had been assigned by Initium Media Technology to cover the aftermath of the August 17 Erawan shrine bombing, in which two Hong Kong residents were killed. He was detained on August 23 while attempting to board a return flight to Hong Kong with the gear in his carry-on luggage; and allowed to leave Thailand shortly after he posted bail the same month.

Protective vests and helmets of the type in Mr. Kwan’s possession are standard gear for reporters working in dangerous areas around the world, and were needed in the course of his work. We reiterate our stance that journalists should always be able to use appropriate protective equipment legally in Thailand.

An FCC petition calling for charges to be dropped was delivered to the Thai consulate in Hong Kong on November 20. The petition was signed — in person and online — by 2,900 members, their guests and the wider community.

We extend our thanks to all who provided their support.

Press Freedom Committee


Published on:
March 9, 2016

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