The FCC notes with concern today’s arrest of the chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Ronson Chan. The club is monitoring the situation very closely.
The police have stated that Mr. Chan was arrested after he repeatedly refused requests to show his ID. He was detained on suspicion of obstructing a police officer and disorder in a public place.
Given Mr. Chan’s position as a prominent leader in Hong Kong’s journalism community, the FCC strongly urges the authorities to exercise transparency and care in handling Mr. Chan’s case. This is especially important given the international attention on press freedom in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s government has repeatedly told the public that Hong Kong’s right to press freedom and free speech – enshrined in the city’s Basic Law – is not at risk.The FCC supports journalists’ right to cover stories without fear of harassment or arrest.
The FCC has been following with concern remarks by the Secretary for Security regarding the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the city’s largest union for working journalists. The secretary’s remarks questioned the details of HKJA’s membership rolls. The HKJA has responded to the secretary’s remarks with the following statement, which the FCC is republishing. The FCC expresses its support for all working journalists during an increasingly challenging time in Hong Kong’s media environment:
In response to media enquiries about our membership and the Secretary for Security’s comments on Wednesday, the HKJA would like to make the following comments:
As of 15 September 2021 at 2pm, HKJA has 486 current members. They include 331 full members, 22 associate members, 34 public relations members, 56 student members, and 43 retired or permanent members. The numbers of our membership fluctuate as the Association processes new applications and renewals daily.
In response to media enquiries on the number of our members employed by specific media outlets, we would like to note that our members come from a large number of media organisations. Each individual membership lasts one year and members are required to renew their membership by the end of the year. If the media outlet where a member works has closed down, or if the member has left the media industry, they will not be able to renew their membership. The details on membership eligibility are available on our website’s membership application section, and are stated in our charter.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Security Chris Tang today said HKJA may “assuage the public’s doubts” by publishing our membership list “without disclosing personal information.” We are baffled by the Secretary’s apparently illogical suggestion. HKJA hopes the Secretary could understand that our members’ employment is part of their personal information. We are therefore unable to decipher how we could possibly make public the media outlets where our members are employed, without also disclosing their personal data at the same time.
We would like to reiterate that under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, HKJA may not disclose members’ personal data without their expressed consent. Any suggestion to make our membership and their employers public in order to “assuage doubts” would appear to incite a breach of the Ordinance.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
15 September 2021
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.
To learn more, go to the Hong Kong Press Freedom Index 2020.