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Hong Kong archives law ‘long overdue’

A modern, comprehensive and transparent archives law that covers all public bodies is long overdue in Hong Kong, argued the director of Hong Kong University’s Social Science Research Centre in response to the Law Reform Commission’s looking at legislation guaranteeing public access to information.

L-R: Don Brech, Prof. John Bacon-Shone, and Stacy Belcher Lee. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC L-R: Don Brech, Prof. John Bacon-Shone, and Stacy Belcher Lee. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Professor John Bacon-Shone added that record keeping was an essential element of an effective and accountable government when he appeared at the April 30 club lunch as part of a panel discussing the need for an archives law.

The Law Reform Commission has come up with a report looking at both the need for an archives law and legislation guaranteeing public access to information. The report has gone out to public consultation. Some journalists, historians and archivists think the proposals are too weak.

Joining Prof. Bacon-Shone were Don Brech, a member of the Archives Action Group and former Director of the HK Government Records Service; and HKU University Archivist and member of the Law Reform Commission Archives Law Sub-committee, Stacy Belcher.

One point of contention among panelists was the potential to charge members of the public for access to information. Prof. Bacon-Shone said there was no cost attached to copying digital records, as opposed to a small cost for photocopying paper records.

However, Belcher argued that there was in fact a significant cost to keep digital records, including electronic storage fees, and administrative costs in transferring and archiving digital information.

Watch the full talk here.

FCC Anti-Harassment Policy – further information

Dear Members,

Late last year, the Club distributed an anti-harassment policy after it was unanimously approved by the Board of Governors. It is an unequivocal statement that harassment will not be tolerated in the Club. It also puts us at the forefront in terms of addressing this issue among private clubs in Hong Kong.

Below please find further information about this initiative.

1. Addressing harassment has been a longtime priority for the Board.

In recent years, the Board has handled a number of disciplinary cases involving allegations of harassment, a problem that is not unique to private clubs or to any specific place in the world. After dealing with three cases in 2017, the Board resolved to take proactive measures by putting a formal anti-harassment policy in writing. This was done in accordance with Club procedures.

2. This policy is about making sure all members feel comfortable in their Club.

Fostering an environment that is welcoming for all members does not preclude lively discussion and a good time, but rather promotes it. 

3. This policy is consistent with principles of free speech.

The FCC has a proven record of standing for free speech in Hong Kong, Asia and around the world. But free speech in the context of a private club does not give members license to talk to or treat others in a demeaning way. This policy is common courtesy and common sense. 

4. The FCC has been very open to criticism of the policy.

Members of the Board have repeatedly engaged critics of the policy, both via email and through discussions in person. The Board remains willing to consider changes that refine the policy, and welcomes all suggestions to improve it as long as they serve the goal of eliminating harassment in the Club.

5. The disciplinary process remains unchanged.

All formal complaints shall be investigated fairly in accordance with the Articles of Association and with respect for the confidentiality of those involved.

6. The FCC is taking other steps to address harassment.

Incidents of harassment at the Club almost always involve excessive alcohol consumption, but being intoxicated does not excuse one’s actions. The staff is being trained to better handle these situations.

7. Combating and preventing harassment is the responsibility of everyone.

All members are responsible and accountable for their own behaviour, and that means respecting other people’s boundaries. The FCC should be a harassment-free environment, and this policy provides a framework to achieve that. But as members we also all need to step up: by considering how our words and actions might affect others, and by looking out for one another generally. It is this kind of caring and collegiality, which our members already show in such abundance, that drew many of us to the Club to begin with.

We invite further feedback as part of an ongoing discussion that we think is to the benefit of the Club overall. Please share your thoughts and questions with us by emailing [email protected]. 

Thank you.


Florence de Changy

FCC President

FCC statement on proposed extradition agreement between Hong Kong and mainland China

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong supports local media organisations and plans to host discussions on the proposed extradition agreement with mainland China, which has been criticized for threatening the safety of journalists and freedom of expression in Hong Kong.
The media organisations’ statement can be read here:
And the associated petition is here:
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