Congratulations to the new FCC Board of Governors for 2021-2022. They will begin serving after the Annual General Meeting on May 25.
We would like to thank the outgoing Board members for their service.
The new Board members are listed below.
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
Lucy Colback Jennifer Hughes Kristie Lu Stout Iain Marlow Shai Oster Austin Ramzy Dan Strumpf Eric Wishart
Clifford Buddle Zela Chin
Genavieve Alexander Liu Kin-ming Christopher Slaughter Richard David Winter
Update of COVID-19 “Vaccine Bubble”
Update of COVID-19 “Vaccine Bubble”
I wanted to give you an update on where we stand regarding vaccinations since the government introduced its “bubble” program to incentivise people to get inoculated.
We are currently operating what is referred to as Type B catering premises, which means only four allowed to a table and the Club must close at 2200hrs. (Detailed club measures can be found here). To seat larger groups and have longer operating hours under Type C — as well as to increase the capacity for private functions under Type D — our entire Club community will need to play a part. This means everyone getting vaccinated. It will also mean everyone using the Leave Home Safe app as required by the government rules. These steps will allow the Club to gain the most and bring us back to financial stability, which is crucial for our long term future.
The Club has already been encouraging our staff to get vaccinated and supporting them in doing so. Our General Manager this month sent a personal letter to staff sharing his vaccination experience and followed it with a town hall with staff on May 14th. On May 25th and Jun 3rd, we have invited all staff to attend a Covid-19 vaccine talk conducted by a doctor, where concerns and questions can be addressed. HR is talking with those staff who have serious concerns.
With all of this, we hope we will have 100% of our staff having either their first, or both injections, within two months. That will allow us to move from Type B to Type C. Members should note that for Type C, it will also be mandatory for all members and guests, between the ages of 16 to 65 years old, to scan the “LeaveHomeSafe” QR code with their mobile phone when checking in. We would no longer be able to accept paper registrations.
Our goal is to eventually reach Type D, which would allow us to open for longer, seat even larger groups and, perhaps most importantly, resume functions of up to 100 people under some conditions and thus begin generating revenue again from hosting events – a critical step in being able to reduce our current financial deficits. Type D needs all staff to be fully vaccinated and all members and guests to have had at least a first jab, in addition everyone using the “LeaveHomeSafe” app to enter the Club.
To this end, we’d like to understand how members feel about Covid-19 vaccinations and their plans for getting inoculated, so that we can better understand the potential demand for increasing capacity as explained above.
The survey is anonymous and literally takes seconds to complete.
I thank you in advance for participating. The link to the online survey can be found here.
Hong Kong’s Courts Need to Maintain ‘Focus’ for the City’s Legal System to Endure – Former Judge Henry Litton
Hong Kong’s judiciary has lost its former efficacy and judges need to focus on remedies and practical issues rather than esoteric arguments, said Henry Litton, former judge of the Court of Final Appeal, in an FCC webinar.
“What I think one needs to do is to really just focus on the actual issues, rather than to give the entire narrative,” Litton said. “What has been happening in a lot of the cases is that the judges really are not focused anymore.”
“That is how the rule of law is supposed to work, not dissolving into clouds of words, of theories, of arcane analyses and so on which bear no relationship with the actual issue and problem on the ground,” Litton told FCC Journalist Governor Cliff Buddle.
He outlined five cardinal rules for strengthening the judiciary and rule of law: effective action, discipline of law, ensuring the law has a cutting edge, focusing on remedies and preventing courtrooms from becoming places of debate.
The former judge, who previously authored Is the Hong Kong Judiciary Sleepwalking to 2047?, said these changes are needed to ensure the survival of the city’s legal system in the coming years. He predicted that a decision would be made in the next five or six years on whether the common law system will be Hong Kong’s governing system beyond June 2047.
The courts adopting a more common sense approach would be seen as a favourable move by Beijing, Litton said, noting that the central government will ultimately decide the fate of the judiciary. He argued that a straightforward and effective judiciary would have a better chance of survival.
“For stability and prosperity, everyone everywhere would accept that when you have a legal system that actually works and functions, you should not dismantle it and try to replace it because there would be total chaos for many, many years, for generations maybe,” Litton said.
You can watch the full discussion below.
Independent Journalists Crucial to Exposing the Scale of India’s Coronavirus Catastrophe – FCC Panel
Local and independent reporters have played an essential and often high-risk role in revealing the true scale of India’s CVOID-19 catastrophe while many in the mainstream media have preferred to parrot the government’s narrative, journalists Barkha Dhutt and Rana Ayyub said in an FCC webinar.
They spoke amid a spiralling death count from the virus in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been accused of downplaying the scale of the disaster while failing to provide essentials like oxygen to hospitals and vaccines to the population.
The government’s attempts to defend its response have been amplified by often compliant national media, the speakers said. Meanwhile, journalists reporting from hospitals and cremation sites have been branded “vultures” while Western coverage has been labelled anti-Indian and imperialistic.
“Most of the news channels are run by big investors, big industrialists who are craven and help Narendra Modi with his election campaigning, so you don’t expect them to speak truth to power”, said Ayyub, an investigative journalist and global opinions editor at The Washington Post.
As a result, grassroots reporting has been essential in telling the story, Dutt and Ayyub said in the webinar moderated by FCC First Vice President Eric Wishart.
Dutt, an opinion columnist with The Hindustan Times and The Washington Post whose father recently died of COVID-19, gave the example of images that emerged of bodies floating in Indian rivers as cremation and burial services became overwhelmed.
“These have come from people who are not famous journalists, who are just young stringers on the ground”, she said. “Despite the attempts to control big media, technology is liberating and anyone today with a phone and a spine is telling the stories that the world needs to see”.
“I want to acknowledge the work of really vulnerable reporters who do not have health insurance, have no organizational affiliation, these really extraordinary boots on the ground in our smaller towns and in our cities”.
At the same time, local journalists who dare to challenge local authorities live in fear of retribution.
Ayyub cited the example of a local journalist who sent her videos of 450 funerals in one day but refused to be quoted in an article she was writing for The Washington Post. “The chief minister of the state will make my life sad and miserable, and I will be thrown behind bars”, he told her.
Around 70 people describing themselves as “Concerned and Upset Indians” sent a joint letter to the FCC ahead of the event titled “Please Stop Providing Platform to Anti-Indians” and asking the club to cancel the discussion.
“Such people are completely biased and motivated”, it read, referring to the speakers.
Both Dutt and Ayyub, who have faced online violence including death and rape threats because of their coverage, said they were not surprised by the letter.
“What’s important to stress is that this is organized. Don’t think that this petition is a spontaneous reaction”, Dutt said. “There is now a clear attempt to deflect the scale and the enormity of what’s happening and create irrelevant side issues.”
“This takes us in a direction where we don’t have to talk about the fact that we are looking at a million more deaths by June, where you don’t have to talk about the fact that bodies are floating down the rivers of rural India”.
“We continue to be targeted for telling our stories, for doing our journalism, for going to cremation and burial grounds and showing you the pictures that have shaken the world”, Dutt said.
“We are being told we are vultures for feasting off the dead. Because we write for global media, we are being called anti-national. Whereas the true anti-nationalism we are seeing unfold is public relations between privileged over the lives of ordinary Indians”.
Ayyub, who spoke at the FCC’s 2019 journalism conference about the horrendous online violence she has faced, added: “This is how they shut independent voices, especially women journalists. You slut shame us all the time, you call us names, but you cannot silence us like that. So what better way to try to silence us than by calling us anti-Indian?”
Was there anything positive to take from the disaster?
“For the first time I see Indians united and not polarized by this Hindu-Muslim narrative” said Ayyub, who has set up a crowdfunding site to raise money for food and medical aid for the needy.
“They are united in helping each other out and amplifying each other’s voices, and I think Indians have now realized that this humanity will be the only savior at the end of the day”.
The full discussion can be watched below.
FCC Election and AGM Reminders
FCC Election and AGM Reminders
Dear FCC Members:
Please remember to vote in the upcoming election for the Board of Governors. Polling closes on May 20 at 3 p.m. A ballot has been sent to the address you have listed. If your address has changed — if, for instance, you are working from home and your ballot is usually sent to your work address — please let the front office know at [email protected]
Ballots can be returned to the FCC via mail, courier or in person. If you are having trouble returning your ballot please let the front office know.
There are competitive races in all governor categories, so your vote is important. You can review the board of governors’ ballot and policy statements on the FCC website.
It’s also important to return your proxy voting form if you will be unable to attend the club’s annual general meeting, to be held on Tuesday May 25 at 6 p.m. The proxy form allows you to designate the chair of the AGM to vote on your behalf or to designate a member attending the AGM to vote in your place. (Download proxy form)
Thank you and remember to vote and turn in your proxies.
11 May 2021
WINNERS OF 2021 HUMAN RIGHTS PRESS AWARDS ANNOUNCED | 2021年人權新聞獎公佈結果
WINNERS OF 2021 HUMAN RIGHTS PRESS AWARDS ANNOUNCED
(Scroll down for Chinese version)
HONG KONG, May 6, 2021 — In a year of a pandemic lockdowns, political upheaval in Hong Kong, and protests across the region, the winning entries in the Human Rights Press Awards (HRPA) showcase courage and originality of journalistic storytelling about human rights in Asia.
Radio Television Hong Kong won the Chinese-language documentary award for its investigation into the Yuen Long attack of July 2019, which saw an armed mob beat commuters and protesters inside a subway station. “Chasing the smallest clues, interrogating the powerful without fear or favor. An investigative reporting classic,” the judging panel said of the video entry by freelance producer Bao Choy and 5 other colleagues.
A deep dive by the BBC on “China’s ‘Tainted’ Cotton” won the English-language Multimedia award. The work illustrated the potential scale of forced labor involving hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang’s cotton industry. The judges said the entry, by journalists John Sudworth, Kathy Long, Wang Xiqing, Kathryn Westcott and James Percy adds to the BBC’s “brave, comprehensive and groundbreaking body of work on a subject that is of continuing, and crucial, international relevance.”
Now in the 25th year, the HRPA is Asia’s most prestigious celebration of journalism that raises awareness of human rights issues and shines a light on threats to freedom.
There were a record 549 submissions in all formats, up by 12.5% compared to last year.
The winning entries included the “Fruits of Labor” by the Associated Press, which won the English-language Investigative Feature Writing award for “illustrating a clear link between the harrowing stories in the plantations to decisions by financiers and consumers, who can make a change.”
An account of the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in China, titled “‘End of the World:’ A Pandemic Begins in Wuhan” by Agence France-Presse won the English-language Breaking News Writing award. “The story of 2020, the public health story of a generation, told at great literal risk, global consequences,” the panel of judges said of the story.
Reports on the Indian government’s targeting of its sizeable Muslim minority won awards in the Explanatory Feature Writing and Short Video categories. Reports on how India’s caste system exacerbates the socioeconomic effects of pandemic lockdowns, Afghanistan’s female police officers, China’s growing intolerance, and Hong Kong’s “invisible red lines” were among other award-winning entries.
The Chinese-language winners also chronicled Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong following the 2019 protests, including the imposition of a new national security law.
A report by Deutsche Welle on two protesters who were shot by the police took the Short Video prize, while a comprehensive report by Initium Media on the thousands of people arrested and charged in connection with the Hong Kong protests took the Multimedia prize.
An investigation by Apple Daily, which used flight-tracking data to question the Hong Kong government’s account that it was unaware of a group of activists seeking to flee to Taiwan by speedboat, took the Investigative Feature Writing award. A report by Mirror Media, drawing on what judges praised as deep and probing interviews with Hong Kong protesters on their reactions to the crackdown, won the Explanatory Feature writing award.
The People’s Choice Award received 21,723 online votes, with the public choosing their favorite photo from a selection of six outstanding images. The winning shot, “Little Brother and Little Sister” by Fung Hoi Kin of Ming Pao, showed two underage siblings being detained by riot police during a protest.
HRPA is organised by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, Amnesty International Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
There will not be a 2021 awards ceremony as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. All the prize-winning photographs, including runners-up, will be displayed at the Hong Kong FCC and are open to public viewing.
Hong Kong Press Freedom Index for Journalists Hits Record Low – HKJA
The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has released the Hong Kong Press Freedom Index 2020, which shows that the index for journalists has reached an all-time low. According to the HKJA, the reason for the decline is that “journalists are more cautious than ever when they criticise the HKSAR Government and the Central Government, and managements have put more pressure on them.”
Noting that press freedom in Hong Kong has “greatly deteriorated in the past year,” particularly following the passage of the National Security Act, the HKJA describes a host of developments which have collectively impeded news gathering. As a result, the index for journalists is now at a record low of 32.1 on a scale of 0-100. Previously, the figure stood at 36.2 for 2019 and 40.9 for 2018, reflecting a rapid decline.
The past 12 months have been one of the most challenging periods for press freedom, not just in Hong Kong but across the region. The military coup in Myanmar, the crackdown on protests in Thailand and attacks on independent media in the Philippines have all threatened the physical safety and personal liberty of reporters.
In Hong Kong, which has fallen to 80th place on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, from 18th in 2002, journalists have contended with a range of challenges, including new police limits on accreditation, the prosecution of members of the media, ever increasing pressure on the editorial independence of RTHK, concerns over visas and an attack by thugs on a newspaper printing plant.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said that the media are one of the priority sectors in Hong Kong that need to be “improved” and, with the support of Police Commissioner Chris Tang, says she wants to introduce a “fake news” law. Precedents from around the world have shown that such laws are invariably used to stifle critical coverage and freedom of speech.
On World Press Freedom Day, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong wishes to express its solidarity with journalists who are facing harassment, imprisonment or risking their lives to carry out their essential mission. The club is committed to defending press freedom in Hong Kong and across the region by speaking up when it is under threat, by providing resources and workshops for working reporters, and inviting prominent Hong Kong and international journalists and personalities to speak at the club on matters of public concern.
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