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Cancellation of nomination meeting on 1 April, though nominations still will be received for Board of Governors

CANCELLATION OF NOMINATION MEETING ON 1 APRIL, THOUGH NOMINATIONS STILL WILL BE RECEIVED FOR BOARD OF GOVERNORS

     

Dear Members,

     

As you will be aware the government has issued strong guidelines for fighting the coronavirus that emphasise the avoidance of nonessential meetings. In the light of this and in the exceptional circumstances of these times, we are canceling the Nomination Meeting on April 1st but slightly extending the deadline for nominations to 6.30pm that day, which would be the last time for making them were the meeting to have been held.

     

If any member would like to stand for election to the Board of Governors please either complete the form sent to you or email a message to [email protected] indicating the post for which you wish to be nominated. All nominations require a nominator and seconder from the membership category of the candidate. If it is not practical to secure these nominations without coming to the Club, the office will assist in arranging this.

     

Members of the Election Committee will scrutinise the nominations on Wednesday and ensure they are in order.

     

It is our intention that in all other respects the election will proceed in the usual manner that allows members to vote either by post or by inserting a voting form into the ballot box at the FCC entrance.

     

By order of the Board of Governors

     

Jodi Schneider, President

     

On behalf of the Election Committee

     

Stephen Vines, Chair

 

 

My battle to bring my newly widowed mother to Hong Kong – and away from coronavirus-hit London

My father would have laughed at the irony of it all. A Fleet Street veteran dying during the biggest story, perhaps, since World War Two.

Michael Brown, former Fleet Street editor. Michael Brown, former Fleet Street editor.

Michael Brown was the reason I went into journalism. And it was his death that led directly to the most important, and painful, assignment I have ever undertaken.

It began on Friday, March 13 when his body suddenly began to shut down bit by bit. He was 91 and had been battling dementia for almost a decade.

I was on my way to the airport when I got the call from my sister. He had passed away just minutes earlier. If I had left a day earlier I would have been there for the ending. Instead, I missed the deadline his body had set for him.

He passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning, March 15… the Ides of March, a portent of doom in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

The 13-hour flight from Hong Kong to London would offer plenty of time for silent reflection. I sat numb, unable to cry or think.

The backdrop for his death could hardly be worse. I had spent the past few weeks reporting on the coronavirus outbreak. Now it had spread to England. The family home is in London, by now the worst affected part of the country.

But rather than mourn my father I began to realise there was a higher imperative. I had to get my mother out of England. At 86, recovering from cancer, she is extremely vulnerable to this disease. Yet if she remained in London she faced the prospect of up to three months self-isolation in an apartment where she had watched my father’s gradual mental disintegration. I did not want her to endure yet more torment.

Yet I had arrived in London expecting to stay longer. I knew from my mother that there was an acute shortage of face masks and sanitiser, just as there had been in Hong Kong a few weeks earlier.

In the new era of social distancing, how do you comfort a grieving mother? We are told that to win this war we must keep apart from those we love.

As my sister and I attended to the insensitive administration of death, we were simultaneously booking flights to Hong Kong. But confirmations evaporated as ever more flights were cancelled.

Our third booking, though, held. London-Doha-Hong Kong.

I knew we had the narrowest of windows to get out. But nothing could happen until we had a death certificate for my father. That finally happened on the Wednesday, less than 36 hours before our flight departed.

All my mother wanted to do was mourn the man she had loved for 66 years.

In the new era of social distancing, how do you comfort a grieving mother? We are told that to win this war we must keep apart from those we love.

Wrongly or rightly I was taking her to the other side of the world on a journey inherent with risk. Covid-19, after all, has infected airline passengers.

My mother’s neighbour, who is a doctor, came to offer condolences. In passing, she mentioned she was being drafted to a hospital ward that is specifically treating Covid-19 patients. She also confided that she was preparing to fight the virus without an N95 face mask, which offers more protection than regular, disposable face masks. We handed her as many of my masks as we could spare, including 5 N95s. That incident seemed to neatly sum up the National Health Service’s state of preparedness.

It was a grey, damp morning when my mother and I took a cab to Heathrow airport. Like so many other people the driver wasn’t wearing a mask. My sister was joining us. As British passport holders they can enter and stay in Hong Kong for six months without a visa. But our window was narrowing.  A day earlier the Hong Kong government announced that all arrivals would have to undergo 14 days self-isolation at home, in hotels or government quarantine centres.

But the check-in staff were confused. A death in the family is both distressing and stressful and the young woman behind the counter was about two make our day even worse.

She told my mother and sister that they wouldn’t be boarding the flight because they weren’t Hong Kong residents. I sat my mother down, bags piled beside her. She looked broken and forlorn. My escape plan was falling apart. She was born in the run-up to World War Two, now in the final years of her life she was facing dislocation again.

Resignation was now spreading through my body. My sister wasn’t giving up though. A supervisor was called. Eventually, he accepted the regulation had been wrongly interpreted by his junior colleague. With an hour before our flight left, we were finally handed our boarding passes.

During this public health emergency your ears are attuned for certain sounds, like a persistent hacking cough. Like the cough coming from the seat one across from my mother. A kind Chinese student near the back of the cabin agreed to swap seats. After a few blunt words from me, the coughing passenger reluctantly put on his face mask

The risk of bringing my mother to Hong Kong was borne out by a phone call I got from my travel agent a few days later. There had been at least two infected passengers on our flight.

We are now under 14 days self-isolation in my small but comfortable apartment in a remote secluded corner of Hong Kong. We do twice-daily temperature checks and so far so good. But as I was writing this the police paid a visit. I have been spotted on the roof of my flat which I am told is a breach of my quarantine regulations. A vigilant, but understandably concerned neighbour , has raised the alarm. I point out that the roof is part of my property. They seem unsure and warn me not to go up again.

A few hours later two health workers wearing visor shields and white protective clothing are at the front door with instructions to move the three of us to a government quarantine centre in Sha Tin. I explain that we have already been self-isolating in my apartment for four days. It’s unclear why they want us to leave. In fact they seem as bemused and confused as I am. I explain that we are managing fine at home and that it would be best for my mother to remain where she is. I also add that in a few hours’ time my father is being cremated on the other side of the world and that we were planning to mark the moment with a small ceremony.

By now my mother and sister are in tears. The nightmare that began 10 days earlier seems never-ending.

A public health emergency can bring out the very best and worst in people. In this crisis I have seen both. The two health workers make a phone call and then without a word return to the street where the van to take us to the centre is parked.  The vehicle and its occupants remain there for two more hours. During this time we are left in limbo, unsure what the next minute will bring. I call the Health Department hotline to seek clarification. It’s busy…as it has been on the seven other occasions I have tried to call.

We press on with the ceremony, knowing that another knock on the door maybe imminent. On the dining room table, a small makeshift shrine has taken shape. A photo of dad from his 80th birthday, a lit candle and two small bunches of roses and carnations left at the front door by my wife earlier.

At the exact moment my father’s body was being placed into the cremation chamber, my mother, sister and I held hands listening to the song that we had also requested be played during the service: ‘ Bring me sunshine,’ by the former British comedy duo Morecambe and Wise. The lyrics include the line “in this world where we live, there should be more happiness.” Words that seem to mock these dark times.

Poignantly my sister has just shown me a letter my father wrote to all three of his children on March 25, 2004..exactly 16 years to the day that he was cremated.  It begins: “This is a letter to all three of you— something I have never done before…and I probably won’t do another of these for a long time.” It’s a letter of love and thanks from a proud parent.

I hope he thought I did the right thing.

Adrian Brown is a journalist with Al Jazeera, and a member of the FCC, Hong Kong.

Applications for FCC Board of Governors

Applications for FCC Board of Governors

 

To all members

 

The closing date for nominations to the FCC’s Board of Governors is Wednesday April 1 at 6pm. In spite of the disruption caused by the coronavirus, we intend to keep to that schedule.

 

You have all been mailed details of the positions, who may vote for each, and a nomination form.

 

However we understand that not all members who wish to stand want, or are able, to visit the club to hand in the form before then – or to meet people to get the signatures.

 

For those who wish to stand and who cannot make it to the club before the deadline, please email the following four pieces of information to [email protected] by noon on Wednesday 1 April and the club will ensure that two members sign your nomination form.

 

As the nominee, you do not need to actually sign the form yourself.

We do encourage members to run for the board and we are actively seeking nominations.

 

Name

 

Affiliation

 

Membership number

 

Position you are running for

 

 

FCC Announces Changes in Operation Starting Friday 27 March

FCC Announces Changes in Operation Starting Friday 27 March

The Board of Governors of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong has approved additional measures to protect the health and safety of the club’s staff, members and guests. These are in keeping with, and go beyond, the Chief Executive’s announcement earlier this week of measures to try to contain a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong.Starting Friday, March 27, upon opening, the club will for the foreseeable future implement the following measures:

* Reduce the club’s hours of operation – from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
* Allow only one guest per member at all times
* Close Bert’s
* Increase distance between tables and visitors and promote social distancing including at the Main Bar
* Cancel all banqueting until further notice
* Expand takeout and delivery options
* Continue to keep the gym closed per the government’s regulations regarding changing rooms
* Continue the check-in, temperature taking and declaration measures upon entry to the club
* Continue enhanced and frequent cleaning protocols throughout the club

These measures will allow us to continue to serve our members, which is important as we are a professional club that supports members in their working lives, as well as providing a social venue. Many members are working journalists, including freelancers, who depend on the facilities in a professional capacity and need to continue to conduct interviews.

We do not underestimate the gravity of the health situation facing Hong Kong and strongly believe that these enhanced measures will allow us to better protect the health and safety of staff, members and guests, while allowing us to keep open the club that forms a vital function for working journalists. These measures go beyond the government guidelines. If those guidelines or the situation in Hong Kong changes, our plans can and will be revised accordingly.

Thank you.

26 March 2020

 

 

FCC to Close Gym Effective March 24, Seeking Clarification on How Other Measures Will Affect the Club

FCC to Close Gym Effective March 24, Seeking Clarification on How Other Measures Will Affect the Club

The FCC will close its gym at 10 p.m. Tuesday March 24, adhering to a measure announced by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Monday requiring that all private clubs with changing room facilities should close such facilities to reduce social contact.

The FCC’s management and board is seeking clarification from the government – the club’s landlord – to determine how other provisions including a possible suspension of liquor licenses in Hong Kong’s bars, restaurants and clubs may affect the FCC’s operations. Members will be advised once that information is available.

Thank you.

 

 

FCC Announces Expanded Travel Disclosure Requirements Starting Thursday 19 March

FCC Announces Expanded Travel Disclosure Requirements Starting Thursday 19 March

 

Starting Thursday 19 March, we will ask that people do not come to the club within 14 days of arriving in Hong Kong from overseas. This is in keeping with new Hong Kong government guidelines requiring that people arriving in the city from any foreign country must self-quarantine for 14 days.

 

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the FCC has been updating measures to ensure the health and safety of members and staff including screening temperatures and requiring all members and guests to note their recent travel histories at the reception desk.

 

We also ask that guests and members use their best judgment and not visit the club if they are feeling unwell or if they have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have the virus, in order to ensure the health and safety of others.

 

Thank you.

 

21 March 2020

 

An open letter to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Hon Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the Director of Immigration, Erick Tsang Kwok-wai


Matthew Marsh on the outlook for Formula One

A month ago, Formula 1 analyst and presenter of Fox Sports Asia Matthew Marsh was all set to report on the 2020 motor racing season. By mid-March, however, the opening race in Melbourne was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, and the season looks unlikely to begin before May.

This was one of the topics Marsh discussed at his March 18 appearance at a sold-out club. The former professional racing driver gave insights into the personalities of some of the world’s top Formula One drivers and shared anecdotes from the press pit.

You can watch the video here.

FCCC statement on expulsions from China of journalists of three U.S. newspapers

This statement was released by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China on March 18, 2020.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China deplores the cancellation of reporting credentials for American journalists with three U.S. newspapers, an action that will affect at least 13 of our colleagues, a group of talented and dedicated professionals. The total number of affected journalists at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post could be higher, depending on how broadly Chinese authorities implement this decision.

Their imminent banishment from journalism in China diminishes us in number and in spirit, though not in our commitment to vigorously cover China. There are no winners in the use of journalists as diplomatic pawns by the world’s two pre-eminent economic powers. Journalists illuminate the world we live in. China, through this action, is dimming itself.

The FCCC also deeply regrets that authorities in Beijing have taken the further step of banning affected journalists from reporting in Hong Kong and Macau. The FCCC is not aware of any precedent for such a requirement.

Prior to today, China had expelled nine foreign journalists since 2013. Others have been denied visas altogether.

Since the beginning of 2019, at least 13 correspondents have also been given truncated-term visas with validity of six months or less. Since the beginning of 2020, three of those correspondents have been given one-month visas. Resident visas are typically issued for a year. By expelling journalists and keeping others in a state of visa uncertainty, China is overtly using its powers in an attempt to influence overseas news coverage, by punishing those who publish information authorities see as unfavorable and wish to keep quiet.

Foreign correspondents working in China are subject to surveillance and government pressure, in an environment of extreme hostility toward the types of factual reporting Chinese authorities claim to welcome. Such conduct is as unacceptable as it is longstanding.

In “Control, Halt, Delete,” the FCCC’s report on working conditions in 2019, 82% of surveyed correspondents said they experienced interference, harassment or violence while reporting; 70% reported the cancellation or withdrawal of interviews, which they know or believe to be due to actions taken by Chinese authorities; 25% were aware of sources being harassed, detained, called in for questioning, or otherwise suffering negative consequences for interacting with a foreign journalist; and 51% said they were obstructed at least once by police or other officials. Of those who reported from China’s north-western Xinjiang region, 65% were prevented from accessing locations by what they believe to be staged traffic accidents or road blockages.

Read the FCC Hong Kong’s statement on the expulsions of U.S. journalists 

FCC statement on expulsions of U.S. journalists from China

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, is alarmed at the decision of the Chinese government to expel U.S. journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. The FCC is even more concerned by reports that they will be banned from working as journalists in Hong Kong, given that Hong Kong has its own system under which press freedom is a right according to the law.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs instructed American journalists for the three news organisations whose press credentials are set to expire this year to “notify the Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within four calendar days starting from today and hand back their press cards within ten calendar days”.

It added that the journalists “will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People’s Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions”.

Under the Basic Law, all decisions about employment visas for foreign nationals in Hong Kong, including journalists, have been made independently by the Immigration Department.

If that system has changed, it would represent a serious erosion of the One Country, Two Systems principle.

The Hong Kong government must immediately clarify the situation and must immediately and without reservation provide assurances that foreign journalists working in Hong Kong and those applying to work in Hong Kong will continue to be issued employment visas without interference from the Chinese government.

Read FCC China’s statement on the expulsions

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