Members Area Logout

FCC Statement on World Press Freedom Day

    
 
This World Press Freedom Day, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong reinforces its commitment to pushing to maintain freedom of the press in Hong Kong and around the globe.
 
As journalists and media organisations in Hong Kong face rising pressure and uncertainty due to the recent passing of the Safeguarding National Security Act, May 3 acts as a reminder for government officials to respect their stated commitment to press freedom. It is also a day for media professionals to reflect on issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
 
Today we celebrate the media’s role in providing a platform to tell stories which keep our society informed and engaged about issues which affect us all. We advocate for journalists’ right to continue to carry out their work unhindered, free of harassment and danger.
 
We show solidarity with Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been detained in Russia for over a year, and the hundreds of journalists imprisoned or killed as a consequence of doing their jobs covering conflicts in Myanmar, Ukraine, the Middle East and elsewhere.  
 
The Israel-Gaza war, in particular, calls attention to the need for governments to do more to safeguard journalists’ ability to inform the public. We mourn the 97 journalists and media workers killed in the course of covering that war, and express our deep concern for the 45 others reported injured, missing or arrested.1
 
The FCC will continue to monitor the press freedom situation in Hong Kong, make statements and question government policy with an aim to ensure that journalists can carry out their work without fear or favour.

“Freedom of the press is a precious privilege that no country can forgo” – Mahatma Gandhi



1Committee to Protect Journalists, 29 April 2024 https://cpj.org/2024/04/journalist-casualties-in-the-israel-gaza-conflict

FCC Statement on border entry denial of Reporters Without Borders representative

    
 
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is concerned that a representative of global press freedom NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been denied entry to Hong Kong by the city’s immigration officials.
 
Aleksandra Bielakowska travelled to Hong Kong twice in 2023 without incident, both times in her professional capacity as an Advocacy Officer at RSF, but was denied entry on this trip. Her colleague Cédric Alviani, who was travelling with Ms Bielakowska on April 10, was granted entry to Hong Kong.
 
The FCC has reached out to the Immigration Department to ask why Ms Bielakowska was denied entry.
 
While we appreciate that the Immigration Department does not normally comment on individual cases, we respectfully request an explanation in order to improve the transparency of the system, and so that the public may better understand the reasons behind the decision.
 
 

FCC Submission on the Consultation Document of Article 23 of the Basic Law

On February 28, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong sent the following submission to the Security Bureau on the Consultation Document of Article 23 of the Basic Law.

In loving memory of John McBeth

    
 John McBeth
May 31 1944 – December 7 2023
 
Of all the foreign correspondents who have worked in southeast Asia over the past six decades, none surpassed John McBeth in dedication to his craft and the esteem and friendship of his colleagues.
 
As a young and adventurous journalist from Taranaki, he left the Auckland Star en route to London. He never got there. Stopping off by chance in Indonesia he found a new Asian home and field for his talents.
 
Working in Bangkok for a variety of publications and agencies, he was an early recruit to Asiaweek, then in 1979 joined the Far Eastern Economic Review where he was to remain until its 2004 closure. He was in a Bangkok bureau with such talents as Rodney Tasker and Paisal Sricharatchnya and close friend of Neil Davis, the noted war cameraman killed in an abortive Thai coup. Eased out of his Bangkok comfort zone to Seoul, he distinguished himself covering the turmoil and political change of the late 80s and, with colleague Nayan Chanda, scooping the world on the North Korean nuclear programme.
 
From there it was to Manila and a still much-quoted series on the nation’s regional warlords. He then had a medical issue which resulted in the amputation of one leg. This trauma would have killed the spirits of most journalists, but with the never ending support of his wife Yuli Ismartono, the correspondent for Tempo he had met in Bangkok, he overcame the challenge. It is hard to overstate the importance of their bond.
 
They moved to Jakarta where he again distinguished himself with coverage of the latter Suharto years and then turmoil which followed his downfall. After the Review’s closure he wrote a regular column on Indonesia for the Straits Times and contributed to other publications and in 2011 wrote an entertaining book accurately entitled “Reporter: Forty Years Covering Asia”.

He had some strong opinions but never let them get in the way of accurate reporting delivered cleanly and on time.

As a colleague, he was always good company. Good friends included not just his immediate workmates but correspondents at large, not least FCC immediate past president Keith Richburg.

He seemed indestructible and was in fine form when I saw him just three months ago. But such is aging. Now we mourn with Yuli the passing of someone who has left us with so many good memories and a permanent record of good journalism.

Philip Bowring

FCC Statement on Journalists and the Israel-Hamas War

    
 
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is deeply saddened and disturbed by the severe toll the ongoing Israel-Hamas war has taken on journalists.
 
As of Oct. 26, at least 27 journalists were among the more than 7,000 people killed in the conflict, including 22 Palestinians, four Israelis and one Lebanese, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least eight other journalists have been injured, and nine others are believed to be missing or detained.
 
There are multiple other unconfirmed reports of journalists being killed, injured, missing, detained or threatened, and of their homes and offices being damaged.
 
The Club expresses its deepest condolences to the colleagues and loved ones of the journalists who have been killed, as well as the journalists whose families have been killed in the conflict they are covering.
 
The Club further calls on all parties to ensure the safety of journalists on the ground in Israel and the Gaza Strip, who are reporting the news with great courage under extremely dangerous circumstances. Journalists are civilians who should not be targeted, and their ability to freely and safely do their jobs is vital for understanding the conflict and working toward its end.
 

FCC Statement on Unjust Sentencing of Myanmar Photojournalist Sai Zaw Thaike

    
 
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong calls for the release of Sai Zaw Thaike, a photojournalist unjustly sentenced to a lengthy prison term by a military court in Myanmar.
 
Sai Zaw Thaike was sentenced on Sept. 6 to 20 years in prison with hard labor for his coverage of the aftermath of a deadly cyclone in Rakhine State. He was covering the disaster for independent news outlet Myanmar Now when he was arrested in May and charged with various infractions, including sedition, which carried sentences varying from one to 20 years.
 
Myanmar Now said the number of charges on which he was convicted is unclear and that Sai Zaw Thaike was provided with no legal representation throughout his detention.
 
His arrest and conviction are an apparent act of retribution and intimidation aimed at Myanmar Now, which was banned shortly after Myanmar’s military staged its 2021 coup. Myanmar Now continued to operate from exile, providing independent coverage of the aftermath of the coup despite the regime’s efforts to crack down on free press. Since the coup, dozens of journalists have been arrested and four media personnel have been killed.
 
The FCC stands in solidarity with Myanmar Now and urges the release of Sai Zaw Thaike. All journalists should be able to cover stories without fear of harassment or arrest.
 

FCC Statement on Blocking of The Kashmir Walla in India

    
 
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is deeply troubled by what amounts to the forced closure of The Kashmir Walla, one of the last remaining independent news outlets in Indian-administered Kashmir.
 
The Kashmir Walla, founded more than a decade ago and known for its human rights reporting, has faced relentless harassment from Indian authorities since early last year, when its founder and editor, Fahad Shah, was arrested along with trainee reporter Sajad Gul under anti-terror laws. Both remain in prison.
 
On Aug. 19, Kashmir Walla staff discovered that access to their website had been blocked in India by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and that the outlet’s social media accounts were also inaccessible in India. The outlet says it received no warning and has been unable to find any official order regarding these actions.
 
The Kashmir Walla has since had to vacate its office in Srinagar after being served an eviction notice by the landlord.
 
The intimidation, harassment and arrest of journalists in Kashmir is part of a broader crackdown on civil liberties in the disputed, Muslim-majority region that began in August 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s autonomy and put it under central government control. The growing pressure faced by journalists in Kashmir and India more broadly is reflected in this year’s World Press Freedom Index, where India fell to 161st out of 180 countries from 150th last year.
 
The FCC urges the government of India, the world’s largest democracy, to explain the actions taken against The Kashmir Walla and respect the right to a free and independent press, which is essential to the functioning of any democratic society. It stands in solidarity with The Kashmir Walla and other independent news outlets in Kashmir, and supports all journalists’ right to do their jobs without fear of harassment or arrest.
 

The FCC has also reached out to the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong for further dialogue.

FCC Statement on Political Cartoonist Zunzi

    
 
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong (FCC) expresses concern over the termination of prominent Hong Kong political cartoonist Wong Kei-Kwan’s comic series.
 
Wong’s cartoons, published under the pseudonym Zunzi, ceased to be published in local media outlet Ming Pao from May 14, 2023.
 
The move to suspend Wong’s cartoons came as government officials have publicly criticized his cartoons for a number of months.
 
The FCC notes that the decision to stop publishing Wong’s cartoons is a further blow to press freedom in Hong Kong.
 
The Hong Kong government has repeatedly told the public that freedom of the press and freedom of speech, as enshrined in the city’s Basic Law and National Security Law, is not at risk. The FCC supports the right of media professionals to continue to enjoy those freedoms under the laws of Hong Kong.
 
In addition to our continued proactive engagement with relevant government departments, we have reached out to Ming Pao for dialogue about this decision.
 

FCC Statement on Media Access

    
 
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong (FCC) is concerned that several media outlets were barred by the Hong Kong government from covering a National Security Education Day event on Saturday 15 April, 2023.
 
Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), a government-registered media outlet, reports that it was rejected from attending a ceremony at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, along with several other outlets and a wire service.
 
This follows last year’s decision by the government to bar some local and international media, including Hong Kong Free Press, from attending the swearing-in ceremony of Mr John Lee Ka-chiu as the Chief Executive of the HKSAR.
 
Media outlets being barred from covering public events raises concerns over the future of press freedom in Hong Kong, which is guaranteed under Article 27 of the Basic Law.
 
The FCC also notes that the event in April was held with the aim of enhancing the public’s understanding of the importance of national security to Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability. The barring of certain registered media outlets is further perplexing given the stated objectives of the events of that day, as well as the guarantee of freedom of the press under Article 4 of the National Security Law (NSL).
 
The FCC has contacted the Hong Kong Information Services Department (ISD) to ask them to explain why journalists are being denied access to certain events featuring high-ranking government officials. To facilitate dialogue, the FCC has requested a meeting with the ISD to discuss media access to future government-sponsored events.
 
The FCC welcomes the Ombudsman’s decision on 2 May 2023 to investigate HKFP’s complaint against the ISD and urges that a full report be published outlining the Ombudsman’s findings.
 

Press Freedom Survey 2023

Press Freedom Survey 2023
      
Dear Correspondent/Journalist members,
To mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the FCC press freedom committee is launching the second survey of its Journalist and Correspondent members for their thoughts on whether and how the environment for press freedom is changing in Hong Kong. We would really appreciate you sharing your experiences in this anonymous survey, which should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.
A link to the survey has been emailed to all Correspondent and Journalist members today. Printed versions of this survey are available at the Club’s front desk.
The survey will be open until midnight on Friday May 19.
Many thanks in advance for your time, 
The press freedom committee

We measure site performance with cookies to improve performance.