Members Area

Introducing… FCC new members April 2020

The latest group of members to join the FCC is, as always, an interesting bunch. The Membership Committee meets regularly to go through applications and is always impressed by the diversity of people who want to join the Club.

Sue-Lin Wong

I am the Financial Times’ South China Correspondent covering mainland southern China, Hong Kong and Macau. I opened the FT’s Shenzhen bureau last year, after opening the Reuters Shenzhen bureau in 2018. I was previously with Reuters where I covered beats including North Korea and the Chinese economy. I was born and raised in Australia where I am admitted as a lawyer.

 

 


Roy McKenzie

I’m from Cape Town, South Africa, where I worked as site editor for News24, the country’s biggest news site. I am now a production editor on the Asia desk at the SCMP, and am enjoying being back in Asia, 20 years after first travelling around the region. My other half Nick works in reinsurance. We certainly picked an exciting time to move here, arriving just as the protests started and now coronavirus. Friends have joked that Hong Kong was doing just fine before we arrived, so apologies about that. When not exploring the city or region, we can probably be found at the bar in a heated discussion, so please come and interrupt.


Huh Dong Hyuck

I was born in Tokyo, Japan, into a Korean journalist and statesman’s family. I studied history at Yonsei University, Seoul, and have an MA degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. My career as a journalist is three-and-a-half years with the New Daily Korea; I used to work in the automotive industry, but switched to being a reporter to pursue a long-cherished dream of journalism. I speak Korean, Japanese, English, Mandarin and some Cantonese. My beat is Hong Kong and Asia Pacific. Since I am still at an early stage in journalism, I welcome any advice from FCC members!

 


Andrew Chan

I am the vice-president of Group Risk Management at PCCW Group. Apart from managing risks and opportunities in this complex and ever-changing world, I have a strong passion for Hong Kong and Asian cinema. As a longtime professional member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia, I have enjoyed the opportunity to participate in film festivals held at Venice, Jeonju, Busan, Beijing, Hong Kong and all over Australia. It is also the reason why I joined the FCC, to further continue my life-long hobby and mingle with like-minded fellow FCC members.

 


Kilian Chan

I am a Hongkonger working in the wealth management profession. I have a strong passion for the performing arts and enjoy going to concerts and the theatre, as well as playing and organising classical music concerts. I have been playing the cello for more than 20 years and still try to practise and improve a bit every day. One of my sources of inspiration comes from nature. I love hiking a lot. Going up and down the mountains seeing the amazing work of nature is rewarding. Walking up the Peak after a salad at the FCC Lounge is one of my favourite things to do.

 


Jatia Anurag

Originally from Mumbai, I moved to Hong Kong about nine years ago with my family. I spent a year in London before moving here. Since my move to Hong Kong, I have been involved in managing a family office. Besides work, I spend a lot of time boxing and learning Muay Thai. I am very passionate about music, especially classic rock from the 80s, and I enjoy collecting vinyl records. I am interested in technology, and have a 10-year-old daughter.

 


Dr Jack Lau

My name is Jack. I have a long affiliation with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where I am currently serving as a Council member and also an Adjunct Professor in Engineering. I enjoy keeping track of the latest technologies in my blog (www.jacklau.info). I spent my adolescent years in San Francisco. I also help out on a number of HK Government technology funding committees as my public service. I am an avid golfer who has a rather serious handicap 🙁 I enjoy yoga and reading.

 


Bruce Morrison

I started out as an English teacher nearly 40 years ago in Egypt, living in Cairo and Ismailia (on the Suez Canal), before making my way to Hong Kong in 1994 via Madrid and Tarragona, Tsing Hua University in Beijing (1986-88), Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Rome and Beijing again briefly. Mostly, I worked for the British Council as a teacher trainer and language centre director, with every destination providing its special challenges. I have worked at the HK Polytechnic University since I arrived here and am now director of the English Language Centre. I live in Sai Kung Country Park and walk in the hills, travel as much as I can and grapple with building model wooden boats.


Ernest Law

I’m a professional banker, spending most of my career in Hong Kong but have also lived and worked in Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore. Basketball has been my favourite sport since school and I played in the local league till a serious injury. After that it became a casual weekly exercise which I still enjoy playing every weekend. My daughter started riding some five years ago and since then has fallen in love with the sport, while I am only a spectator. I am in the process of establishing a new business venture in Hong Kong.

 


Symon Wong

I am a retired magistrate of the HKSAR and teach at the School of Law of the City University of Hong Kong. Martial arts have played an important role in my life. I started practising Muay Thai and Taekwondo when I was seven. It equipped me with the skills of self-defence and, more importantly, strengthened endurance when faced with difficult times in life. I am honoured occasionally to referee or judge matches held by the Hong Kong Muay Thai Association. Given the social unrest since June 2019, I also write commentaries with the aim of neutralizing the atmosphere of hatred in Hong Kong.

 


Gary (Hang) Yu

I grew up in Hangzhou, China, and moved to the U.S. to pursue a graduate degree after I finished college. I spent almost another decade in Illinois before deciding to move to HK in 2011. Growing up as a fan of TVB soap operas and Hong Kong movies, this decision couldn’t have been easier. I work for Goldman Sachs, writing computer programs to trade securities automatically. When I am not at work or tutoring my kid with maths homework, I’m cycling in Tung Chung or running on one of HK’s beautiful trails.

 


Ella Arwyn Jones

You may guess from my surname (and I’m told, lilting accent!) that I come from Wales. That, together with Irish blood and a year in Tokyo during my Edinburgh degree, may explain how at home I feel living on an island. A chance meeting on London’s Strand led me to become Head of Research, Apac, at Acuris’s Inframation news platform, covering infrastructure investment across the region. Despite the cockroach-and-Hoover-incident (a tale for a drink at the bar!) I love Hong Kong – its feng shui, sunny hikes and shopfront cats.

 


Rebecca Feng

I was born in Beijing, went to college in the U.S. and completed my master’s degree in postcolonial literature in Scotland. My dissertation focused on the literary identity of Hong Kong after 1997. And that’s why I came to Hong Kong in September 2018 – I wanted to live in the city I had read and written about. Here I cover the Chinese market opening-up process for GlobalCapital China, a publication under Euromoney. I have an identical twin but I like travelling alone and drawing what I see on the way.

 


Joanne Lam

A matrimonial lawyer by day and a yogi and exercise enthusiast by even earlier in the day, I am known for my high-energy and bubbly personality (or so I am told). I was formerly with the South China Morning Post as assistant editor for STYLE magazine. Nowadays, you’ll find me lifting heavy things and putting them back down at the gym across from the FCC, exploring coffee shops in Hong Kong or cooking up a storm at home.

 


Hilga Warringa

Hailing from the Netherlands, I never imagined that my future would involve setting up home (and business) amongst the glittering skyscrapers of Hong Kong. But when I arrived here in 2006 to set up the Asian subsidiary of a Dutch options market making firm, I fell in love with the city. As a child, my passion was for animals and their welfare, and I have managed to combine business with that passion. In addition to my investment work, I set up a drinks brand, Animal Love, which benefits animal charities. Our Scotch whiskies support dog shelters and our Tahitian rum and gin aid sea turtle conservation.

 


Delphine Lefay

I am co-founder & CEO of OnTheList, which I founded four years ago with my husband, and it has been one of the best adventures so far. It is a members-only flash sales platform for luxury brands. I am very passionate about building a sustainable future and hope to be involved in bringing more awareness of sustainability into the fashion industry. I also love exploring different cities with friends and learning about new cultures. One of the hobbies I took on as a kid was horseback riding and to this day it is still one of my favourite activities.

 


Kristie Lu Stout

 

I’m a proud member of the FCC and have been an anchor/correspondent for CNN based in this beautiful city for almost two decades. I report both breaking news and features in Hong Kong and across the region. I regularly go into the field to anchor and report on major stories and also host feature shows on innovation. Warning: I am a hard-core media addict. All recommendations are welcome including art house (and low-brow) movies, longform journalism, books, graphic novels, Instagram feeds, podcasts and Nintendo Switch games. If anyone in the Club wants to talk, please introduce yourself.

 


Iain Marlow

I’m a correspondent with Bloomberg News, mainly covering politics, security and foreign policy issues. My partner Nicole Baute is a writer who is teaching at Hong Kong University. We’re both Canadian and arrived here after three years in India, where I covered Indian politics and South Asia out of Bloomberg’s lively New Delhi bureau. Before that, I was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national paper. Our July arrival in Hong Kong brought us here at the height of the protests, and now we look forward to fine conversations at the FCC bar on the other side of “social distancing”.

 

In the Room: Behind the Scenes of History

Photographs by David Kennerly

Former FCC member David Hume Kennerly has been a photographer on the front lines of history for 55 years. At age 25 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Feature Photography. His winning portfolio included images of the Vietnam and Cambodia wars, refugees escaping from East Pakistan, and the Ali v. Frazier “Fight of the Century”. Two years later Kennerly was appointed President Gerald R. Ford’s Personal White House Photographer, the third person to ever have that job.

Former President George H.W. Bush, President-elect Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office at the White House, January 7, 2009. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly) Former President George H.W. Bush, President-elect Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office at the White House, January 7, 2009. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)

Kennerly has photographed 10 American presidents, and covered 13 presidential campaigns. He was a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine for 10 years, and a contributing photographer for Time and Life magazines for more than 15. American Photo Magazine named Kennerly “One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography”.

In 2019, The University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography acquired the David Hume Kennerly Archive, which features almost one million images, prints, objects, memorabilia, correspondence and documents. University President Robert C. Robbins also appointed Kennerly the university’s first Presidential Scholar.

Muhammad Ali heads for the deck in the 15th round of his World Championship fight after taking a left hook from Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden, March 8, 1971 in New York City. Frazier won the fight. This was one of Kennerly's Pulitzer Prize pictures. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly) Muhammad Ali heads for the deck in the 15th round of his World Championship fight after taking a left hook from Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden, March 8, 1971 in New York City. Frazier won the fight. This was one of Kennerly’s Pulitzer Prize pictures. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)

Kennerly has published several books of his work, Shooter, Photo Op, Seinoff: The Final Days of Seinfeld, Photo du Jour, Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford, and David Hume Kennerly On the iPhone. He was also a major contributor to the CNN 2016 book, Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything. His exclusive portrait of the new president is on the cover.

Kennerly was executive producer of The Spymasters, a 2015 CBS/Showtime documentary about the directors of the CIA. He also produced The Presidents’ Gatekeepers, a four-hour Discovery Channel film about White House chiefs of staff. Kennerly was nominated for a Primetime Emmy as executive producer of NBC’s, The Taking of Flight 847, and was the writer and executive producer of a two-hour NBC pilot filmed in Thailand, Shooter, starring Helen Hunt. Shooter was based on Kennerly’s Vietnam experiences, and won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography.

In 2015 Kennerly received the prestigious Lucie Award honouring the greatest achievement in photojournalism.

President Richard Nixon in the hallway of the White House in 1974. Nixon resigned the presidency August 9, 1974. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly) President Richard Nixon in the hallway of the White House in 1974. Nixon resigned the presidency August 9, 1974. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)
First Lady Betty Ford strikes a playful pose on the Cabinet Room table, January 19, 1977, the day before leaving the White House in Washington D.C. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly) First Lady Betty Ford strikes a playful pose on the Cabinet Room table, January 19, 1977, the day before leaving the White House in Washington D.C. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)
China's Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping in The Great Hall of the People during a visit from US President Gerald R. Ford, December 1, 1975 in Peking, China. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly) China’s Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping in The Great Hall of the People during a visit from US President Gerald R. Ford, December 1, 1975 in Peking, China. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)
The funeral procession for slain political leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. makes its way through the streets of Manila in the Philippines, August 31, 1983. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly) The funeral procession for slain political leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. makes its way through the streets of Manila in the Philippines, August 31, 1983. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat poses in front of the Pyramids of Giza in 1977 in Cairo for Time Magazine's Man of the Year issue. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly) Egyptian President Anwar Sadat poses in front of the Pyramids of Giza in 1977 in Cairo for Time Magazine’s Man of the Year issue. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)
President Donald J. Trump greets former President Barack Obama immediately after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly) President Donald J. Trump greets former President Barack Obama immediately after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly)

Mind HK: The importance of giving unspeakable suffering an accurate voice

Mind HK held its Media Awards 2019 ceremony at the Club on January 14, an event postponed from November due to protest activity. The awards, in their second year, were launched to “celebrate the best portrayals of mental health in the media”. Sue Brattle reports.

 

Student Journalist runners-up Yu Wing Tung (left) and Wong Ching Yi Student Journalist runners-up Yu Wing Tung (left) and Wong Ching Yi

You could hear a pin drop as speakers told their personal stories to a packed Main Dining Room at the Mind HK Media Awards 2019 ceremony. The authentic voices of people either suffering from mental health issues, or from watching a loved one suffer, were almost unbearable to hear. But such stories, and the accurate telling of them, were the reason so many people had gathered at the Club.

Dr Hannah Reidy, CEO of Mind HK, said: “The stigma here is huge; we found that 60 per cent of people we asked believe it is easy to tell mental health sufferers apart from the population.”

Olivia Parker Olivia Parker

Dr Reidy had good news and bad news. Mind HK has trained more than 2,000 people in Hong Kong in mental health awareness, but people diagnosed with a mental health illness are waiting up to three years for a follow-up appointment with a professional.

The 2019 awards attracted more than 100 submissions, and 13 judges weighed each entry against three key criteria: it challenged perceptions of mental health; it was well-crafted and responsibly produced; and its reach and impact.

The awards spanned print, digital and broadcast in both English-language and Chinese media and covered the 12-month period from July 2018 to June 2019. The judging panel included Chris Yeung, chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Candice Ling, clinical psychologist at New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, and Paul Yip, director of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention.

Lesley Chiang Lesley Chiang

The English-language Journalist Award went to FCC member Kate Whitehead, for Back from the Brink and Playing with Fire published in the South China Morning Post. Kate said later: “I was raised in Hong Kong. As a 17-year-old student at German Swiss International School, I lost my best friend to suicide. In those days, there was little understanding about mental health issues or support for young people. According to the World Health Organisation, one in four people will be affected by a mental health issue at some point in their lives. This club has about 2,500 members, which means that roughly 625 members will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. If that isn’t you, then it’s more than likely to be someone close to you.

“I’d like to give a big shout out to the editors who commission the journalists. So, a special thanks to the SCMP’s health editor Cathy Hilborn Feng, who allows journalists such as myself and fellow Club member Nan-Hie In to write these stories.”

Host Eric Wishart Host Eric Wishart

During the evening, hosted by FCC Vice-President Eric Wishart, actress, singer-songwriter and mental health activist Lesley Chiang spoke movingly of her battle with severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Chiang, who two weeks later announced her marriage to engineer Pak-ho, said that after breaking up with her previous boyfriend “every single day my brain told me I was a burden”. She said: “When you are depressed you are not your own person. So I named my depression ‘Borat’.”

FCC member and Mind HK board member Olivia Parker related the deeply personal tragedy of her late boyfriend, underlining the importance of sensitive and informed reporting around mental health.

Search for final resting place for U.S. photojournalists killed in Vietnam

When a helicopter was shot down over Laos in 1971, four respected photojournalists and seven others on board were killed. Their remains were eventually interred in a U.S. museum. But now the museum has been shut down, and the search for a new resting place is underway. Rob Gerhardt reports

February 10, 1971 was a dark day for journalism. On that fateful day, photojournalists Larry Burrows of Life magazine, Henri Huet of AP, Kent Potter of UPI and Keisaburo Shimamoto of Newsweek were killed when the helicopter they were riding in was shot down in the skies over Laos. They were all covering the opening moves of Operation Lam Son 719 in the Vietnam War. Their deaths sent shockwaves through the Press Corps in Vietnam, and stunned those who knew them.

Larry Burrows of Life magazine Larry Burrows of Life magazine

While they were the most well-known occupants, the group on the helicopter that day numbered 11 people. Along with Burrows, Huet, Potter and Shimamoto, were South Vietnamese Combat Photographer Sgt. Tu Vu, two senior officers, and the four crew members of the helicopter.

The site of the crash was first discovered in 1996, and in 1998 the site was excavated by the U.S. Joint Task Force – Full Accounting, now part of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). After attempts to bury them in other places failed, the few remains that were recovered were entombed in a small box under a plaque in the Newseum in Washington D.C. in 2008.

Their final resting place would be the museum’s memorial to fallen journalists and was one of the centerpieces of the museum as a whole.

Or, at least it was.

With the closing of the Newseum on December 31, Burrows, Huet, Potter, Shimamoto and the others are once again searching for a permanent resting place. On January 14 their remains were disinterred from the Newseum and returned to DPAA custody till a new resting place can be found.

Financial troubles forced the Newseum in Washington D.C. to shut on December 31 Financial troubles forced the Newseum in Washington D.C. to shut on December 31

For years the museum had not enjoyed a solid financial footing, having spent $450 million (approx. HK$3.5 trillion) to build its home in Washington D.C. Surrounded by the various Smithsonian museums that charge nothing to get in, the Newseum charged a $25 (HK$194) entrance fee. And even though it drew roughly 800,000 visitors a year, it was not enough to keep the museum afloat. The building has been sold to Johns Hopkins University to be used for D.C.-based graduate programmes.

While the rest of the museum’s holdings are being put into storage or returned to their owners, the remains are now homeless. Russell Burrows, Burrows’s son, said that he was not sure what would happen next, but he is working on it. “Because next February will be the 50th anniversary of the shooting down, I’m treating that as a deadline to come up with a plan to satisfy the families,” he told me.

“Bayeux (France), London, somewhere in Vietnam, Washington, Southern California and Texas have all been raised. Personally, I lean towards another Washington location, but even if the memorial site there, now being discussed, is approved, its completion is years away. When the artefacts were recovered from Laos, we had good information about the foreign journalists, and over the past 10 years we have come to know the Vietnamese families, too.”

At the Journalists’ Memorial in the Newseum on January 14 when the remains were disinterred. Russell Burrows is far right. Photograph: Thanks to Michael Putzel At the Journalists’ Memorial in the Newseum on January 14 when the remains were
disinterred. Russell Burrows is far right. Photograph: Thanks to Michael Putzel

Russell does not believe there will be any DNA testing to further identify the remains that were found. “I don’t believe there will be DNA tests, the necessary level of sophistication wasn’t available in the late ‘90s at the time of the recovery, but the military closed the case based on strong circumstantial evidence. It was a group identification, and there has been no effort to reopen the case to look at the small quantity of human remains.”

The four photojournalists were by no means the first to die covering the Vietnam War. They were all aware of the danger they faced in covering combat and had become familiar with witnessing death. One of Huet’s most famous photographs from the war was a photograph of photojournalist Dickey Chapelle being given last rites by a chaplain after she was mortally wounded by a booby trap. Burrows’s harrowing photo series for Life, One
Ride
with Yankee Papa
13
, showed how the death of a friend in combat can break down even the strongest soldier. Several of his photos are on display in the FCC’s Bunker.

For now, the small capsule containing the remains of the passengers on one ill-fated helicopter in 1971 will stay in the care of the DPAA and held at its laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. They are a long way from the mountainside in Laos, but they are still far from finding a home.

A BIRTHDAY FORAY INTO COMBAT

Photographer and long-time FCC member Robin Moyer remembers Larry Burrows well. He said: “Larry showed me how to use my first real camera, a Japanese Beauty Super II. That was in 1963 at his home on Headland Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong. On May 11, 1970 on my 25th birthday and my first foray into combat, I was on a helicopter headed from Saigon to the Cambodian border with Larry and John Saar from Life (and Kioichi Sawada of AP who was later killed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, October 28, 1970). Here’s a photo of that flight as we pass the Black Virgin Mountain near Tay Ninh. I had a couple of dinners later with Larry in Saigon but was never in the field with him again.”

Photo: Robin Moyer Photo: Robin Moyer

Rob Gerhardt is an absent Club member and a freelance photographer based in New York

 

‘Gig economy’ bill bites back at freelancers

California Assembly Bill 5 was meant to protect workers in the “gig economy”. Instead, it is driving some freelance journalists out of work, and others out of the state. Morgan M. Davis reports.

On January 1, California implemented a new law regulating “gig economy” workers. The law, also known as California Assembly Bill 5 or AB5, has hit freelance journalists in the state hard.

The rise of the “gig economy”, with more people opting for non-traditional jobs such as car share driver or freelance contributor, has befuddled regulators. In the U.S., states like California have attempted to balance the rise of these new economy jobs with respect for workers’ rights.

California’s so-called “gig economy law” is supposed to give all workers job stability, fair wages and benefits. But somewhere between an attempt to encourage employers not to take advantage of their non-traditional workers and an effort to give freelancers employment rights, California managed to crush the gig economy. For freelance journalists, the results have been crippling.

“It’s extremely important to know that there are so many workers who are being exploited, and they should be protected. Nobody is arguing that,” said Vanessa McGrady, an author and freelance journalist, editor and content strategist. “However, as written, AB5 is overreaching and affects people who don’t want or need the bill’s ‘protection’ because we are independent businesses.”

For many people, the gig economy isn’t a last resort option to use when full-time employment isn’t available, as the lawmakers behind AB5 seem to think. As many journalists can relate, being a full-time freelancer can offer work flexibility, independence and even better pay than a traditional job can.

“I work from home and I make a good living with a high hourly rate, but I also have a flexible enough schedule so that I can be there for my child when and if she needs me during the day and when she’s not in school,” said McGrady, who is a single mother with an eight-year-old daughter. “It’s terrifying to think that could all disappear from this unjust and callous law.”

Another California-based journalist agreed. “Many of us chose this lifestyle for a reason,” said the journalist, who asked to remain anonymous because of the online trolling she has dealt with as a result of her AB5-related tweets. “We exchange some security and benefits for the freedom we enjoy.” The journalist’s main source of income was a popular content mill based in Nevada. For nearly eight years, she’s written for the site, building a reputation. But because of California’s new law, the site has cut her off, telling her that she cannot use the site to find work as long as she lives in California.

McGrady predicted that talented creatives will flee California, and the quality of journalism will be eroded. This will be particularly worrisome for niche publications that can’t afford staff, such as those covering LGBTQ communities or people of colour, she said.

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful and former US vice president Joe Biden. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful and former US vice president Joe Biden. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

One of the biggest criticisms of AB5 is the misunderstandings that it stirs up. There is confusion about how independent contractors are affected. Or, if a person holds more than one part-time job, it’s not clear which employer is responsible for health and other benefits, if any are even made available.

For freelance writers, there is an annual 35-piece submission cap to a media organisation, which does not distinguish between 100-word content and 10,000-word pieces that require months of research. Most journalists will hit the cap quickly, as will editors and photographers that face a similar cap.

As a result, companies like SB Nation, Vox Media’s sports news website, have cut ties with freelancers in favour of hiring a few full- and part-time staff. Companies located outside of California are on edge, concerned that they could be in trouble for violating California’s laws if they hire California-based freelancers.

“There’s so much fear and misunderstanding around this bill, it’s put a chilling effect on virtually every publisher and platform in the nation that works with California freelancers,” said McGrady.

“If we are forced to become employees, we give up tax deductions we use to run our business, but even more frightening is that we could lose copyright or rights to our own work,” she said, adding that she knows a person who is writing a book and plans to move to Nevada because of this issue.

Despite the push back that California has received, other states are considering similar laws. U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has come out in support of the bill as well. “When this happened, I began brainstorming other places to live. I thought about Oregon and Washington before reading that they were considering similar laws,” said the journalist. “I don’t really feel safe anywhere. It’s like everything I’ve worked so hard to build is being taken away.”

Morgan M. Davis is a finance reporter at Euromoney’s GlobalCapital. The Illinois-transplant moved to Hong Kong two years ago by way of New York City, accompanied by her trusty sidekick Gizmo the Yorkie. Morgan has reported on multiple sectors of finance, and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University.

How press freedom is backsliding across Asia

Freedom of the press is backsliding across Asia as authoritarian leaders demand total control over information. Beijing is meanwhile exerting control over the media in China and outside the mainland, and governments are implementing laws that silence dissenters and motivate self-censorship. Amy Gunia reports.

Wall Street Journal reporters Philip Wen (left) and Josh Chin, expelled from China, at Beijing Capital Airport on February 24 Wall Street Journal reporters Philip Wen (left) and Josh Chin, expelled from China, at Beijing Capital Airport on February 24

It’s a decade-long phenomenon, but the grasp of governments over free press has been tighter and tighter in the past five years,” says Daniel Bastard, the head of Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Asia-Pacific desk.

Even in the last year, press freedom has deteriorated in several Asian countries. Some experts say that the recent outbreak of COVID-19 is worsening the situation. The pandemic “has only made it worse, as governments are using the excuse of the virus to put further controls on the press,” says Steven Butler, the Asia Programme Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Suppression of information in China, where the virus was first reported, has had global ramifications, according to RSF, who says that the public might have learned about the seriousness of the virus earlier, perhaps saving thousands of lives and possibly avoiding the current pandemic, if the Chinese press were free.

“Every voice that announced the risk of the epidemic was gagged,” says Cédric Alviani, director of RSF’s East Asia bureau.

Even before the coronavirus epidemic broke out, freedom of the press in China was in a perilous state. China ranked 177 out of 180 countries on RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index – with only Turkmenistan and North Korea ranking worse. As of December 1, China was the top jailer of journalists, with 48 behind bars, according to the CPJ.

Working conditions for foreign journalists in China worsened significantly in 2019, according to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China annual report.

“Chinese authorities are using visas as weapons against the foreign press like never before,” the report says. In March 2020, Beijing expelled around a dozen American journalists from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post in the largest expulsion of foreign journalists in recent history.

Experts say that Beijing is attempting to exert control over the media outside of its borders. According to a report released by RSF in March 2019, the Chinese government is actively trying to influence the global media to deter criticism and spread propaganda.

Beijing’s influence appears to be growing in Hong Kong. Activists and journalists whose opinions run contrary to the party line have increasingly been stopped from entering the city, where freedom of speech and press are enshrined in the Basic Law that has governed the city since the handover.

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth launched their 2020 World Report at the UN in New York after he was refused entry to Hong Kong Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth launched their 2020 World Report at the UN in New York after he was refused entry to Hong Kong

In 2020 alone, at least three people have been denied entry, including the head of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Kenneth Roth. He attempted to enter the city in January 2020 to launch the organisation’s annual report, which included an opening essay critical of the Chinese government’s “intensifying assault on the international rights system”.

Multiple journalists covering the anti-government protests in Hong Kong also reported incidents of police violence against reporters on the front lines.

Meanwhile, across Southeast Asia, press freedom is under attack. For Singapore, where civil liberties and freedom of speech are already highly restricted, 2019 brought troubling developments. In May, the government passed controversial legislation against “fake news” which HRW called a “disaster for online expression”. Since then, the government has invoked the law several times, in one case asking the opposition party to change online posts about local employment rates.

Thailand passed a draconian cybersecurity law and unveiled an “anti-fake news” centre in 2019, giving authorities sweeping power over online information; HRW has criticised the government for persecuting those critical of their response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is ‘weaponising laws.. to make the media docile’ Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is ‘weaponising laws.. to make the media docile’

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte continued his campaign against the news site Rappler by bringing further legal charges against the website’s CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa, which rights groups say are politically motivated.

Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN’s franchise is due to expire in May, but its renewal has yet to be approved. The “government is weaponising laws to force the closure of a news media organisation that earned the ire of the powers-that-be”, says Danilo Arao, an associate professor of journalism at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

“Duterte is making an example of ABS-CBN so that other news media organisations would toe the line and practise a kind of ‘journalism’ that would be servile and docile.”

Vietnam, where 12 journalists were imprisoned at the end of 2019, was the top jailer of journalists on a per capita basis, according to the CPJ. “Vietnam is in the running for the most dangerous country in Asia for journalists, as far as imprisonment is concerned,” Butler of the CPJ says.

In Indonesia, an internet blackout was imposed following unrest in West Papua in August 2019. Journalists working in the region, which is off-limits to foreign media, reported difficulty doing their jobs. The government named human rights lawyer Veronica Koman, who posted reports about the protests on social media, a suspect for provoking unrest and spreading fake news.

Officials in the country detained American environmental journalist Philip Jacobson over visa issues in late 2019 before deporting him. Jacobson had attended a meeting between the local government and an indigenous rights organisation before his detention.

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promoted nationalism “that spreads hatred against journalists who don’t toe the line,” according to Bastard of RSF.

There were reports of violence against journalists by police during protests late last year against the Hindu nationalist government’s Citizenship Amendment Act, and the CPJ reports that more than a dozen journalists were harassed or physically attacked while covering riots that broke out in February 2020 over the same legislation.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘spreads hatred against journalists’ India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘spreads hatred against journalists’

In August of 2019, Modi revoked Kashmir’s autonomy and implemented an unprecedented communications blackout. RSF’s Bastard calls the shutdown “history’s longest ever e-curfew”. He says this prevents “eight million people from accessing the most basic free information, which is now potentially criminal in the context of the coronavirus crisis”.

In Myanmar, authorities reinstated an internet shutdown in five townships in Rakhine and Chin states in February, leaving around 1 million people in an information blackout – particularly damaging in the current pandemic.

Still, there are some bright spots in an otherwise dim landscape. “Taiwan remains a beacon of press freedom, as does [South] Korea,” says Butler of the CPJ. “Hong Kong’s press freedom is still reasonably robust, even as it’s come under assault, mainly from China,” he adds.

Amy Gunia is a reporter for Time magazine in Hong Kong. She is a member of the FCC’s Press Freedom committee.

Coronavirus: Frustration at watching sports history being made

The modern Olympic Games have been cancelled three times, in World War One and World War Two. This time, the coronavirus has postponed them. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo on how the sports media are coping

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces the Olympics postponement on March 24 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces the Olympics postponement on March 24

Serious questions began to be asked in February about the wisdom of Tokyo going ahead with the Olympic Games, the world’s largest multi-discipline sporting occasion and an event that would bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to Japan’s already crowded streets.

And then, on March 24, it was official: with pressure growing from national Olympic federations and a number of countries declaring that they would not send athletes to Tokyo even if the International Olympic Committee went ahead with the Games, IOC President Thomas Bach and Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, announced that the event was being put back by a year.

It perhaps came as no surprise – but it has thrown correspondents’ plans into chaos.

“Everything was going very smoothly,” said Randy Schmidt, a cameraman and editor for CBS in the US. “Staffing decisions had been made, we had our live-shot locations set up, hotels and media passes had all been sorted out.”

The anticipation was building among his colleagues, said Schmidt, who covered the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the Winter Games in Nagano in 1998 and then again in Pyongcheong in 2018.

“The Olympics are a coveted assignment and most everyone wants to work on them, especially if it means travelling to a city like Tokyo for a few weeks,” he said.

And with the one-year delay? He shrugs. “Who knows?” Georges Baumgartner, the correspondent in Japan for Swiss Radio and Television, says the “only story now is the coronavirus”. The Swiss national broadcaster had been putting the logistics in place to cover the games for more than a year – but began hedging on a decision on additional steps because of the uncertainty.

Baumgartner had previously passed on to his editors reports that discussions were unquestionably taking place behind the scenes well before the IOC and Japan announced their decision.

Rumours suggested that the local Olympic committee, the national government, the Tokyo city government and the IOC were delaying announcing a decision for as long as possible to give the crisis time to blow over. But the end of May would have been the latest they could wait before calling the whole thing off.

In the event, they did not even make it to the end of March.

Long before the decision was made, the options for the organisers appeared limited, journalists covering the Games concluded. Simply cancelling the Olympics appeared to be out of the question given the amount of money that Japan had lavished on preparations, so the IOC effectively had a choice between delaying until later in the year, and hoping that the virus had run its course, or postponing for a full year.

Neither scenario was particularly appealing, given the complications surrounding everything from athletes’ schedules to qualifying events, television rights and schedules, accommodation, ticketing and countless other details.

Ilgin Yorulmaz, a freelance journalist who contributes to the BBC World Service’s Turkish-language programming, had secured an insider’s view of the Games by volunteering to work in the main stadium media centre. “A couple of weeks ago I was doing stories about the hot and humid weather and the marathon events being moved to Sapporo,” she said.

Schmidt says the announcement that the Games are on hold has already led to a flurry of new stories. “A couple of weeks ago, I would have said there was no chance that the schedule for the Olympics could change,” he said. But then this outcome became “inevitable”.

Julian Ryall has been based in Japan since 1992 and is a correspondent for the South China Morning Post, The Daily Telegraph in London, Deutsche Welle in Germany and other publications around the world.

 

Coronavirus: How hard can it be to get the lowdown on face masks?

When face masks sold out in Hong Kong and people started queuing round the block on the back of rumours that new supplies were available, Jack Lau decided to investigate how to reuse the ones he had. He learned a lot about science, and a few things about journalism, too.

People queued up for hours to purchase face masks from a makeshift stall People queued up for hours to purchase face masks from a makeshift stall

When the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 emerged in Hong Kong, I wasn’t terribly concerned. After all, Hong Kong’s epidemic readiness and personal hygiene practices have improved over those in 2003, when SARS killed 299 people in the city. It would all be over in a few months, I thought, and for now we just need to wash our hands more often and wear masks in public places, as everyone did 17 years ago.

But when people began to queue for hours for masks and their prices soared, it became clear those with few or no masks might have to stay home for months. I was one of them.

Ann Chiang Ann Chiang

So, I went looking for answers: Could I reuse a mask and still be reasonably protected from airborne droplets containing the virus? And if so, how could I disinfect one for reuse?

Experts and health officials largely advised against reusing masks. Attempts to do so were laughed at and dismissed as unscientific. The most notable case was perhaps that of lawmaker Ann Chiang, who posted a video on her Facebook page she found online detailing how to disinfect masks by steam. Those without surgical masks were told not to leave their homes. The city’s Consumer Council collaborated with the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital and made a tutorial for creating a DIY paper mask, but the result was hard to breathe through.

Despite near-unanimous advice against reusing masks, most have ignored the experts. And the “expert” advice was not always convincing. Sometimes GPs, who are users of masks but not experts, were asked about their effectiveness when journalists ought to have asked researchers in environmental health or material science. More problematic was that medical experts and health officials only said in the news what they believed to be the best personal hygiene practices against the virus. Often they gave no explanation, or mixed a bit of science with public policy considerations.

When Ho Pak-leung, clinical associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s microbiology department, criticised Chiang’s steam disinfection tutorial video, some Chinese-language media only quoted soundbites saying the video was “fake news” and “outrageously wrong” – but didn’t explain why.

Screen capture of the video shared by Ann Chiang on disinfecting masks by steam Screen capture of the video shared by Ann Chiang on disinfecting masks by steam

Ho’s email to AFP Fact Check was more informative. He said the crux of the matter was not if viruses can be killed during disinfection, because surgical masks are meant to be single-use. As a reader, I found this unconvincing. Whether the mask is designed to be single-use or whether they can be used multiple times are different questions. In the same AFP story, Ho added attempts to disinfect single-use masks might harm their effectiveness, without pointing to any evidence.

In an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Andrew Wong, president of the Hong Kong Society for Infectious Diseases, cited a 2006 report by the Institute of Medicine in the U.S. that he said discouraged reusing masks and respirators. But that report did not provide evidence. Its authors only spoke to mask manufacturers and said they had to rely on their collective judgment due to severely limited data.

Given the lack of evidence presented by experts in the news, I spent days scouring my university library and databases for literature on reusing masks and respirators.

A 2015 study conducted by the United States’ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene concluded short-wavelength ultraviolet light can disinfect N95 respirators with only a small decrease in effectiveness, although the masks degraded at higher doses of ultraviolet light. The study concluded the tested N95 masks could be reused a limited number of times.

Hong Kong’s epidemic readiness has improved since the SARS crisis in 2003 Hong Kong’s epidemic readiness has improved since the SARS crisis in 2003

A study published in February from Fudan University’s molecular virology lab concluded blow-drying surgical masks for 30 minutes can significantly reduce the presence of virus without much damage to their ability to filter particles at 2.5 microns, which are smaller than droplets that might carry viruses.

Jack Lau Jack Lau

In the first few months of the epidemic, the media could have better bridged the disconnect between experts and laypeople on reusing masks. From what I have read, this area lacks research. It is inconclusive whether masks can be reused, but from reading the news I had the impression that reusing masks went against scientific evidence.

I am not advocating that you reuse your masks or don’t reuse them. I am arguing that experts should not overstate how informed by science their decisions are. Health guidelines can also be informed by public policy, such as preventing panic and ensuring the health system has a steady supply of masks. And it’s important that journalists make both considerations clear.

Journalists should also not write as if readers trust interviewees by virtue of their job titles and expertise. Journalists should give them the chance to justify their views, but with a healthy dose of scepticism. This means experts should be expected to produce solid evidence to support their claims. Journalists should report not only the what but also the why.

Otherwise distrust between people and authorities, medical and others, can flourish. Such distrust is already a problem in Hong Kong due to months of political unrest that has soured the government’s relationship with civil society. Distrust is not exclusive to Hong Kong. Public health policies from Iran to the World Health Organization are being challenged. By being a bit more inquisitive, journalists can keep people better informed at a time when communicating science is critical.

Coronavirus: ‘Abundance of caution’ leaves FCC sparkling

The FCC closed for two days last month for a “deep cleaning” after a member was confirmed with COVID-19. Swift action by the general manager and the Board’s “SWAT” team and a phenomenal effort by all the amazing staff meant that our Club managed to get ahead of the virus. Kate Whitehead reports.

First up, let’s get one thing straight – the response was a matter of acting with what the Board referred to as “an abundance of caution”. On the morning of Tuesday March 10, sharp-eyed Carman Chung, who oversees Membership, noticed that a person hospitalised with the virus was a Club member. Electronic records showed that the member, who was quarantined on March 5 after a close family member tested positive for the virus, had last been in the Club 19 days before.

The risk posed to members and staff was very low, but these are days for being over-cautious and the decision was made to close the Club for the next two days for a top-to-bottom thorough cleaning.

Didier Saugy has proven himself to be a hands-on, roll-up-his-shirt-sleeves team player of a general manager and this time was no exception. The Club closed at 6pm that Tuesday evening – the very day the connection with the hospitalised member was made – and Didier briefed staff about the two-day plan to thoroughly cleanse the property. Anyone who felt uncomfortable was offered the chance to opt out. No one did – all staff were committed to the mission.

I snuck in on day two of “Operation Deep Cleanse”. The club was a hive of activity – 83 staff all in casual clothes and wearing masks were industriously scrubbing, cleaning and mopping. The vibe was upbeat – Didier’s enthusiasm had turned this possibly less than desirable job into a grand team-building exercise.

So, what exactly is involved in a “deep cleaning”? It is different from regular or spring cleaning because it reaches the deep grime and dirt and covers areas which aren’t covered in standard cleaning operations. It began with the entrance – two staff on ladders scrubbed the Club’s façade and the grime between lettering on the FCC signage – and extended to every nook and cranny inside the Club.

All the furniture was moved, the tiled floor in the main dining room was washed with a high-pressure water jet, and all the carpets were cleaned with special carpet sanitizer. Three staff spent a whole day scrubbing the 82 chairs in the dining room. All the kitchen equipment was moved and every square inch scrubbed spotless. In the wine cellar, all the bottles were shifted, polished and replaced. In the workroom, old magazines were boxed up and put in storage and the place given a good going over.

A pest control team was brought in overnight, targeting the kitchen and dumb waiters. The air-conditioners were given a professional overhaul. A UV light sanitizer was used in the staff uniform room and the gym changing rooms to disinfect the spaces. Didier even bought magnetic window cleaners to reach the stubborn patches of mildew on the Verandah windows. The Club’s new full-time handyman is a master painter and has been repainting some of the rooms, beginning with the Burton Room.

“Operation Deep Cleanse” is testament to the fact that good things can come out of adversity – the Club has never been as clean. And thanks to Didier the two-day venture brought the staff even closer together.

“Everyone has been very energetic and supportive. If they didn’t have their masks on you would see they are smiling,” said Didier.

Coronavirus: First the streets were packed and now they are empty

The Correspondent asked freelance photographer and FCC member May James to look at how coronavirus is changing Hong Kong. After months working on the front line of the city’s protests, she found a very different picture

‘This small, lively city is packed with 6,700 people per square kilometre – that’s an average of 160 square feet, or roughly a New York City parking space, per person. Which means social distancing is not an easy task. During last year’s protests I was safe to be with my loved ones after a good shower, and cuddling my kids was my soul food to combat the tension. Now, with this epidemic, I can’t take any chances of my asthmatic child getting infected. So I’ve sent them away. It’s the only safe way I can continue to work.’  – May James

 

August 18, 2019: The ‘Two Million’ march, Victoria Park, Causeway Bay .
August 18, 2019: The ‘Two Million’ march, Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. Photo: © May James | May James Photography
March 26, 2020: A few lone walkers March 26, 2020: A few lone walkers. Photo: © May James | May James Photography
December 1, 2019: March from Clock Tower, Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom December 1, 2019: March from Clock Tower, Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom
March 26, 2020: Museums and galleries are shut and few venture out March 26, 2020: Museums and galleries are shut and few venture out
September 13, 2019: Autumn Festival climb and protest, Lion Rock September 13, 2019: Autumn Festival climb and protest, Lion Rock
March 22, 2020: Hikers keep their distance March 22, 2020: Hikers keep their distance
July 20, 2019: Pro-government demonstration at LegCo July 20, 2019: Pro-government demonstration at LegCo
March 28, 2020: Saturday afternoon and no one to be seen March 28, 2020: Saturday afternoon and no one to be seen
December 1, 2019: Tsim Sha Tsui rally passes a Hong Kong icon December 1, 2019: Tsim Sha Tsui rally passes a Hong Kong icon
March 26, 2020: Quiet afternoon along Salisbury Road March 26, 2020: Quiet afternoon along Salisbury Road
July 27, 2019: An estimated 288,000 people march through Yuen Long July 27, 2019: An estimated 288,000 people march through Yuen Long
March 27, 2020: Quiet, but not empty, street scene March 27, 2020: Quiet, but not empty, street scene

‘Coronavirus saved my life’

May James had an extraordinary encounter with ‘Ms. C’ while researching this project.

Photo: May James

Ms. C had suffered with depression since November last year. From being a happy, chatty lady who loved to cook and eat, she lost her focus and found food repellent. She thought the only way out would be to jump off her building. Then, as the coronavirus crisis grew, the government announced schools must shut and civil servants work from home. Ms. C’s two children and her husband all had to stay home and offered her “limitless encouragement and support”. She was reconnecting with her family and friends when the shortage of protective masks hit Hong Kong. So Ms. C. started making them by hand. “It took me two hours on each one from start to finish, but I felt I was saving someone’s life,” she says. “My life is now filled with love and purpose.”

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