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HKJA Statement Responding to Security Secretary

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







Hong Kong’s government not held to account by local press, FCC debate hears

Left to right: Shirley Yam, Florence de Changy, Chip Tsao. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Left to right: Shirley Yam, Florence de Changy, Chip Tsao. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

A rising sense on alienation among Hong Kong’s younger generation regarding China’s affairs has left them disinterested in holding the city’s government to account, thus local media also fails to do so.

This was the explanation put forward by columnist and former Ming Pao deputy editor Chip Tsao as he debated the state of Hong Kong’s press during a club lunch on the topic on June 7.

Asked by a reporter from the Financial Times why the Hong Kong government was not heavily questioned by the media after billionaire businessman Xiao Jianhua was abducted by Chinese officials from the Four Seasons Hotel in Central in February, Tsao said young people see incidents such as this as a ‘fight between a few big brothers’ and that the media then fails to follow up on these stories.

Also on the panel were Daisy Li, Chief Editor of Citizen News and former Chief Executive of the online news division of Apple Daily, Taiwan; and Shirley Yam, South China Morning Post columnist and vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association. When asked whether they thought press freedom in Hong Kong had been eroded since the Handover in 1997, all panelists agreed it had.

The discussion covered the issue of censorship and self-censorship in the Hong Kong press, with Li recounting how a chief editor of a mainstream news organisation had told her she got daily phone calls from China’s liaison office in Hong Kong ‘telling her what to report or the line to take for tomorrow’s story’. The panel agreed that Hong Kong’s media was the victim of both censorship (from Central Government) and self-censorship, in that editors often second-guessed as to what their news organisation’s management wanted.

Watch the Periscope broadcast of the debate here

Yam, a columnist with SCMP for more than 10 years, expanded on the position of Hong Kong’s most read English-language newspaper since it was bought by Chinese tech firm Alibaba in December 2015.

She said: “I can quote what they said in a meeting to the staff. The role of the Post is to tell the China story to the world. Our target audience are the English-speaking audience, full stop… So they need someone who can speak the language… to tell the story that a foreigner can understand. I can see morning Post is happily taking up this role to tell the China story.” She added that she predicts other local media will begin to do the same.

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