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March 18, 2017 Board minutes

Club notice: Typhoon and club operations

When the Hong Kong Observatory announces that Signal No. 8 or above is hoisted, which means limited operations at the club today.

The Club will open at 12:00 noon and remain normal operation.

If the T8 is lowered between 12:00 noon and before 5pm, the Club will be back to normal operation in three hours after the T8 is lowered.

If the T8 is not lowered before 5pm, the ground floor will open with a limited menu and will close at midnight.

If a Black Rainstorm Warning is hoisted during normal operating hours, the Club will remain open.

Stay safe everyone!

Press freedom in Hong Kong shows slight improvement, though remains abysmally low

A recent Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) survey indicates a slight rise in the Hong Kong Press Freedom Index after two consecutive years of decline.

Based on personal experience journalists on the ground believe that the situation has worsened in 2016, compared to the year before. HKJA chairperson Sham Yee-lan explained that the slight increase in the Press Freedom Index was likely to be related to the emergence of online media, which has led to some diversity in the industry. However, since obtaining information for news coverage was becoming increasingly difficult, the improvement in the Index was limited. She urged the chief executive-elect- to implement her promise to enact a freedom of information law and archives law.

The Hong Kong Press Freedom Index for 2016 increased slightly by 0.6 points to 48 for the general public and a more significant 1.2 points to 39.4 for journalists compared to 2015. The index ranges from 0 to 100, which is the highest point for press freedom. Despite this first-ever increase in the Index after four years, Sham Yee-lan described the result as worrying, stating that both index were still below the passing score of 50.

In fact, the survey also shows that 72% of journalist respondents believe the overall press freedom had worsened in the past year. Meanwhile, the feedback from the general public was more diverse. A total of 45% of general public respondents believed that press freedom had worsened; while 42% believed that there had been no change./p>

However, as many as 71% and 97% of respondents from the general public and journalists respectively believed that the disappearance of the Causeway Bay bookseller had seriously affected press freedom in Hong Kong. Sham Yee-lan pointed out that as insiders, journalists would have a much deeper understanding of how the incident had worsened press freedom, thus contributing to a higher percentage.

The differences in the perceptions of the general public and journalists also appeared in other areas surveyed. The general public believed that difficulties were often faced by the news media when it tried to obtain information needed for reporting, rating it at 4.5 (with 0 being most common), with a slight increase of 0.3 compared to last year. In contrast, journalists believed that the situation had worsened, the rate dropping 0.3 from last year to 3.7 in the latest survey. Furthermore, both the general public and journalists believed that existing laws were insufficient to allow journalists to obtain the information they needed for reporting. With 10 being very adequate and 0 being very inadequate, the average rate for the general public was 5.7 and a much lower score of 4.3 for the suffering journalists. Journalists stated that Hong Kong government officials, including the chief executive, chose to avoid media inquiries on many occasions, maintaining a low rating of 2.8. The HKJA urged the government to enact the freedom of Information law as soon as possible, making sure that information held by the government and public bodies could be easily accessed by the general public and journalists in Hong Kong. In the meantime, it must implement the Basic Law to protect the freedom of expression enjoyed by Hong Kong people under the international human rights conventions so that the general public’s right to know could be protected.

The newly elected chief executive Carrie Lam had signed the Pledge to Uphold Press Freedom in an election forum held by The Hong Kong Journalists Association last month, promising to introduce an access to information law and archive law, as well as lifting the ban on access by online media to government press events and facilities within her term.

It is worth pointing out that the self-censorship rating had slightly improved since last year, yet it still had the lowest score amongst all categories, indicating that the problem was still severe. With 10 being not at all common and 0 being very common, the average rate for journalists was 3.1 while it was 4.5 for the general public.

In spite of all the obstacles, the Hong Kong media was still able to play its role as a watchdog. Their performance had been highly credited. The average score given by the general public and journalists were 6.2 and 6.3 respectively, similar to last year.

The Press Freedom Index was divided into two parts, the public and journalists. The former part was conducted by the HKU Public Opinion Programme from Jan 11 to 17. A total of 1010 Cantonese speaking Hong Kong residents aged 18 or above were successfully interviewed. A total of 465 journalists were successfully interviewed from Jan 14 to Feb 20 by the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

The Press Freedom Index has been conducted since 2013. The HKJA would like to express its sincere appreciation for the generous help of members of the survey consultant group, who are as follows:

Ms. Mak Yin Ting (Former Chairperson, HKJA)
Mr. Ng Lap Tak (Convener of the press freedom committee, HKJA)
Dr. Clement So (Professor, School of Journalism & Communication, CUHK)
Prof. Lisa Leung (Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University
Dr. Robert Chung (Director, Public Opinion Programme, HKU)

If there are further enquiries, please call us at 25910692.

Goodbye party for Francis Moriarty

Nominees for the Election of The Board of Governors 2017-2018

a. Please indicate your vote by putting a “✓” in the appropriate bracket. Any mark other than a “✓” shall invalidate this Ballot paper.
b. If vote(s) casted exceed(s) the number allowed in respective capacity, this Ballot paper shall be invalid.
c. Bio & policy statements of the candidates are available at the FCC website <>
d. The completed Ballot paper must be received by the Club, either by mail or in the Ballot box, not later than 3 pm on Wednesday, 24 May 2017.


(The position of President can be voted by Correspondent members only)
(Vote for not more than one)
1. Juliana LIU – BBC News
2. Carsten SCHAEL –  Freelance

(The position of First Vice President can be voted by Correspondent members only)
(Vote for not more than one)

3. Florence DE CHANGY – Le Monde and French National Radio

(The position of Second Vice President can be voted by Correspondent, Journalist or Associate members)
(Vote for not more than one)

4. Douglas WONG – Bloomberg Intelligence

(The position of Correspondent Governor can be voted by Correspondent members only)
(Vote for not more than eight)

5. Enda CURRAN – Bloomberg News
6. Anna HEALY FENTON – Freelance
7. Jennifer JETT – The New York Times
8. Victor MALLET – Financial Times
9. Debra MAO – Bloomberg Television
10. James POMFRET – Thomson Reuters
11. Jodi SCHNEIDER – Bloomberg L.P.
12. Julie STEINBERG – Wall Street Journal
13. Sarah STEWART – AFP
14. Daniel TEN KATE – Bloomberg News
15. Kate WHITEHEAD – Freelance

(The position of Journalist Governor can be voted by Correspondent or Journalist members)
(Vote for not more than two)

16. Clifford BUDDLE – SCMP
17. Edward CHIN – Freelance
18. Wyng CHOW – The Standard
19. Adam WHITE – Freelance
20. Cammy YIU – CULTURE Magazine

(The position of Associate Governor can be voted by Correspondent, Journalist or Associate members)
(Vote for not more than four)

21. Paul CHRISTENSEN – Retired
22. Kevin Barry H. EGAN – Baskerville Chambers
23. Robert T. GRIEVES – Hamilton Advisors Limited
24. Elaine PICKERING – Vision 2047 foundation
25. Simon PRITCHARD – Gavekal Research
26. Nigel SHARMAN – Clifford Chance
27. Christopher SLAUGHTER – CASBAA

Mr Robert Grieves has informed the club that he wishes to withdraw his candidacy for the post of associate governor in the election to the 2017/18 board of governors.  As the ballots for the election had already been printed at the time this notification was received and as reprinting would not allow the ballots to be distributed to members within the schedule required by the articles of association, Mr Grieves’ name remains on the ballot for associate governor.


Obituary: Ian Stewart, foreign correspondent and ex-FCC president

Ian Stewart, father, grandfather, foreign correspondent, FCC president, author, China watcher, adventurer and authority on Southeast Asian politics and culture, passed away peacefully in Sydney recently.

Ian spent a total of 36 years working as a Foreign Correspondent and author in Southeast Asia and was a passionate believer in the free press and freedom of expression. He served two terms as the president of the Foreign Correspondent’s Club, Hong Kong, in 1963-1964 and 1971-1972. He was also president of the Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore for three terms.

Born in Whangarei, New Zealand in 1928, he went to Auckland University before starting his career in journalism at the New Zealand Herald as a cadet. He then worked for both the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Herald before coming to Hong Kong as a stringer for Reuters 1954.

Ian was posted to Indonesia in 1955 where he meet his wife Truus The Tiang Nio and married her before quitting Reuters to return to Hong Kong to work as freelance writer in 1957. After another stint in Indonesia he joined the New York Times in 1959 and for the next 14 years reported on Mao Tse-tung’s China.

He and his family moved to Sydney in 1980 where he worked in public relations and publishing, while writing his own novels, a musical and two film scripts. Ian was the author of seven published novels and two historical works. His first novel, “The Peking Pay-off” was published in 1975 and his last, “ The lust of Comrade Lu”, in 2014.

Ian moved back to Asia in 1991, first to Singapore and then Kuala Lumpur, where he filed for The Australian, The Daily Telegraph (London), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), with occasional radio spots for the ABC, BBC and Deutsche Welle until returning to Sydney in 2001.

Ian is well remembered by the older members of the FCC for his work as club president and his entertaining FCC Folk Night performances at Sutherland House in the 1970s.  A fan of Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary and Woody Guthrie Ian wrote his own songs in a similar genre commenting on current events, colleagues and his work. The chorus below is typical of the lyrics that kept his performances lively, entertaining and very popular.

“We’re the China Watchers of Hong Kong

We’re never, never, never, never wrong.

We may sometimes not be right

But it’s just an oversight

And we’ll certainly correct it ere too long.”

Asylum seekers who helped Edward Snowden ‘degraded’ by Hong Kong authorities, says whistleblower’s lawyer

The asylum seekers that gave refuge to whistleblower Edward Snowden were targeted by the Hong Kong government after Oliver Stone’s film on the subject exposed them, according to Snowden’s lawyer.

Robert Tibbo told guests at the April 5 club lunch that even the families of those asylum seekers were questioned and harassed by police in Sri Lanka after the film Snowden was released. Similarly, Sri Lankan police followed the asylum seekers in Hong Kong, Tibbo said. The three were brought onto the stage at the FCC to applause from the audience as Tibbo revealed that an asylum application for the trio was currently with immigration authorities in Canada, his home country.

Watch Robert Tibbo’s talk

Tibbo, who is based in Hong Kong and represents asylum seekers in the city, was critical of the Hong Kong government for not protecting the refugees after they were revealed to have helped Snowden during his short stay in Hong Kong in 2013. He said: “I think the Hong Kong government wants my clients out of Hong Kong. It’s quite clear that the Hong Kong government has treated my clients in an inhumane and degrading way.”

The three refugees that gave Edward Snowden refuge in Hong Kong. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC The three refugees that gave Edward Snowden refuge in Hong Kong. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

In June 2013, former US government contractor Snowden released a swathe of secret documents revealing the extent of America’s mass surveillance of its own citizens. He immediately left the United States and came to Hong Kong, which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

Tibbo explained that after Snowden arrived in Hong Kong, contrary to popular belief, he was not a fugitive from justice because he had not committed a crime in the city and there was no extradition request from America at that time. Tibbo said that with the very real threat of Snowden being arrested – or renditioned – while in Hong Kong he decided the best way forward was to “hide Mr Snowden in plain sight”. So Snowden left the Mira Hotel where he had been secretly holed up and was given refuge by the city’s “marginalised” asylum seekers.

During his speech Tibbo played video clips from the Edward Snowden documentary, Citizen Four, in which he can be heard on the telephone discussing how to get Snowden to the Hong Kong branch of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) to help protect him. Tibbo revealed that he remains own touch with Snowden, who is still in Russia and is working with the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Tibbo denied reports that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, had agreed to hand Snowden over to the new U.S. president Donald Trump.

‘Speak up against China’: North Korean defector Yeonmi Park’s tearful plea

A young woman who defected from North Korea made a tearful plea to FCC guests to help the “forgotten” people of her home country as she spoke at a club lunch on April 3.

Yeonmi Park recounted the ordeal that she endured as she escaped the dictatorship with her mother in 2007. The pair were trafficked into China where mother and daughter were sold into slavery. Ms Park has since written a book, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, on her escape, and gives talks around the world.

Ms Park, whose mother was in the audience as she spoke, gave an insight into life in North Korea, where the internet is banned and education is geared largely towards serving the “socialist paradise”. Children are taught to hate “American bastards”, and watching American movies can lead to incarceration in a prison camp, she said.

“I did not know what Africa was,” she said, adding: “I did not know we had many different races in the world.”

Yeonmi Park takes questions from the audience after an emotional talk on her escape from North Korea. Photo: Sarah Graham Yeonmi Park takes questions from the audience after an emotional talk on her escape from North Korea. Photo: Sarah Graham

When she finally escaped North Korea, she was forced to watch as her mother was raped by a trafficker. “We did not have sex education in North Korea… I lost my faith in humanity. She was raped instead of me.”

Eventually, her mother was sold for US$75, and Ms Park for $200 “because I was a virgin and I was younger”, she said. A year later mother and daughter were helped out of China to South Korea.

Watch Yeonmi Park recount her ordeal:

On her life today as a university student, Ms Park said: “I’m trying to be normal as much as possible but I will never be normal because I am from a different universe. I am here today even though I know I might get killed by Kim Jong-un. I am on his target list but human rights is something to care about, I will continue to talk about this.”

Having recounted her harrowing story, she fought back tears as she directly addressed the audience, and said: “The people of North Korea have been forgotten for 70 years… I am asking you to help them… Why doesn’t anyone do anything about North Korea?”

When asked by a guest what exactly could be done to help those in North Korea, she asked that people support the NGOs on the ground rescuing defectors in China. And she added: “Speak up against China.”

Notice of Annual General Meeting

Memorandum of Explanation

Dear Members,


We are sending you an updated Annual General Meeting Notice and an alternative Proxy Appointment form since an additional resolution has been added to the meeting. This special resolution concerns the position of widows and widowers of deceased former Club members. It is listed as resolution number 8 in the attached documents. Members will receive the new voting form in the mail next week.


All members who wish to vote on this new special resolution should complete in full the attached voting form. They should mark all resolutions on the form where they wish to express a view. To be valid, this Proxy Appointment form must be signed and received by mail or handed in at the club office 48 hours before the AGM, i.e. by 6:00pm on Tuesday, 23 May 2017.


On receipt of this new Proxy Appointment form the club officers will remove from the count any earlier voting form that a member may have sent to the club. i.e votes will not be double counted.


Those members who do not wish to vote on the new resolution, but have already submitted a Proxy Appointment form should do nothing, and their vote will be processed in the normal way.


The Board is submitting this new resolution as it feels the issue is urgent. The resolution was approved by the Companies Registry after the initial notice of the May 25 AGM was sent to the membership.


The reason for the new special resolution is that it recently became clear that Honorary Memberships have been dispensed over many years to the surviving spouses of deceased members on a basis that was inconsistent with the Club’s Articles of Association. As such, the Board decided that the practice of dispensing these memberships should be paused, until such time that the Articles explicitly provide for the practice.


Since the Board takes the proper treatment of widows and widowers seriously, it decided that the resolution should be expedited for voting at the Club’s AGM on May 25. The new resolution will allow the FCC to continue to honor widows and widowers of members with use of the Club.



Eric Wishart

Club President



Question + Answer


This Q&A seeks to explain why Special Resolution #8 is necessary and how the new policy will work.


Q1: What is the problem with the way the FCC currently treats widows and widowers?

A: Over many years, the Club established a practice where the surviving spouse of all deceased members was offered honorary membership. When recently considering a review of this policy, it became clear to the Board that this policy had developed in contravention of the Club’s Articles of Association. The Board reluctantly decided that that it must stop the practice until such time that the Articles were revised to explicitly allow for this practice.


Q2: How does this affect existing Honorary Members who were granted membership after their spouse passed?

A: There is no change to their membership status which will continue on a lifetime basis.


Q3: Why is this resolution being sent to the membership so late in the day?

A: The issue surrounding Honorary Memberships for a surviving spouse became apparent to the board in March. At the Board of Governors meeting on March 18, the proposed change to the Articles of Association included in Special Resolution 8 was approved. This proposed resolution was sent to the Companies Registry for approval as is required with all changes to the Club’s Articles of Association. Approval from the Companies Registry was received on April 20, well after the original notice of the May 25 AGM was sent to members.


Q4: What will happen if the resolution 8 is not approved?

A: The practice of granting honorary membership to a surviving spouse will cease. The issue may be revisited at a future general meeting of the Club. Any change to the Club’s Articles of Association requires 75% of votes in favor, and so the board strongly recommends members to support the motion.


Q5: Why is Honorary Membership for a surviving spouse being limited to three years?

A: The Board wants to provide a home for a member’s surviving spouse during their grieving period. Hence, it was felt that membership should be granted with an exemption of fees for a three-year period. Thereafter, it was felt that a surviving spouse could be granted the option to join the Club without paying a one-off joining fee. They would, however, pay monthly fees thereafter in order to achieve a more equitable position with other Club members.


Q6: What about the surviving spouse of a Silver Member?

A: In this case, the surviving spouse will retain the privileges of an Honorary member on a lifetime basis, providing that they have been the member’s designated spouse for a period of at least five years.




NOTICE IS hereby GIVEN that the Annual General Meeting of The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong will be held at the First Floor, North Block, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong on Thursday, 25 May 2017 at 6:00 p.m. for the following purposes and to vote on proposed new Articles of Association detailed in the two special resolutions hereby attached:


  1. Approval of the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 26 May 2016;
  2. Approval of the President’s report;
  3. Approval of the Treasurer’s report;
  4. Approval of the audited financial statement for the year ended 31 March 2017;
  5. Appointing Baker Tilly Hong Kong auditor of the company to hold office until the conclusion of the next annual general meeting at a fee to be agreed by the Board;
  6. Amending the Articles of Association Article no. 5(d). Absent Members are not entitled to vote at any Meeting during the currency of their absence;
  7. Amending the Articles of Association Article no. 26 on the criteria of applying absent membership. A Member of more than one year’s standing who may be leaving Hong Kong for three or more consecutive months, provided he previously shall have given notice to the Club in writing that he desires to have his name placed upon the list of Absent members, and provided that he pays an Absent Member fee, shall not be liable to pay his monthly subscription for the time he is absent from Hong Kong;
  8. Amending the Articles of Association Article no. 8 on attaining to an Honorary Member from a surviving spouse. Surviving spouse shall, at the discretion of the Board, be permitted to enjoy the rights and privileges that would otherwise attain to an Honorary Member for a period not exceeding three years, provided that the surviving spouse confirms they wish to take up this benefit within one year of the member’s passing.
    At the end of the three year period, these rights and privileges will cease at which point the surviving spouse will be invited to join the Club as a full member in the Journalist, Correspondent or Associate category as appropriate. The entrance fee will be waived but the surviving spouse will be subject to all other rights and conditions pertaining to full membership including the payment of monthly subscriptions.
    Where the applicant is the surviving spouse of a Silver Member, the surviving spouse will be entitled to the rights and privileges that would otherwise attain to an Honorary Member without limitation of time, provided that the spouse has been recorded as the designated spouse of the member (as recorded in the FCC’s membership records) for five continuous years leading up to the member’s passing and the surviving spouse confirms they wish to take up this benefit within one year of the member’s passing.
  9. The inauguration of the new Board of Governors for 2017-2018 as per results of the election.


The meeting is open to ALL MEMBERS of the Club.


Under the Companies Ordinance, a majority of members representing at least 75% of voting rights of total votes cast is needed for the amendments to be ratified.


You are entitled to appoint a proxy to attend and vote on your behalf at the AGM. We enclosed a proxy form for your completion. Please make sure your proxy attends the AGM with a completed original proxy form, and identification document, and hands it in to the relevant member of staff 48 hours before the AGM, i.e. by 6:00pm on Tuesday, 23 May 2017.


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