An Eventful Year - Report of 2009/10 Executive Committee of the HKJA

    Note: Following is the captioned report passed by the Annual General Meeting of the Hong Kong Journalists Association. 
The Hong Kong Journalists Association under the leadership of 2009/10 Executive Committee experienced an eventful year. Apart from more activities and benefits for our members, HKJA, as the only trade union of journalistic workers, reacted strongly to safeguard press freedom whenever journalists were harassed, especially while working on mainland china, attributed to the busy year.

To safeguard press freedom, HKJA issued nine statements, organized three demonstrations and one signature campaign. Most of them were protests against the suppression of journalistic works and the unfounded allegations by Xinjiang and Sichuan police. Others were in reaction to the unreasonable laying off of reporters who had been made the scapegoat of media organisation’s self-censorship in relation to June Fourth Event (see table 2 for details).    

However, HKJA does not narrow-mindedly focus on press freedom. We also strive for freedom of expression in general. Within the year under report, the HKJA put forward four submissions, organized or participated in three demonstrations, one signature campaign and one night vigil. 

Submissions mainly carried our views on public services broadcasting, radio licences and access to information. And public activities were triggered off by the suppression of dissidents on the mainland. The majority of the activities were held to express anger over the discontent of the arrest and jailing of Liu Xiaobo, one of the drafters of the “Charter 08”.  

Strive for Members’ Welfare
HKJA, as the only trade union in the industry, considers members’ welfare as of paramount importance. In the past twelve months, we have organised nine activities and three press awards, and introduced new members’ benefits (see table 1 for details). Those activities aimed at the enhancement of professionalism, provision of entertainment and leisure activities, as well as the strengthening of our professional community. 

Judging from the popularity of the activities, the Executive Committee believes that we have set off in the right direction. It is believed that our successors will continue to walk along this path while adjusting according to the needs of members of the HKJA so as to allow more members to benefit.

In an unprecedented move, JA, as a trade union, submitted our call for minimum wage for the government to consider in drafting its report to the United Nations for the implementation of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Hong Kong. We further participated in the rally on May 1st in which we called for decent wage. Some members may find the identity of a “labourer” an eyesore. However, journalists are also labourers under a broad term. What we sell are our mental as well as physical ability.    Ironically, in terms of time and effort, some journalists got lower wages than the minimum wage under discussion! Therefore, JA has to come out and fight for the minimum protection of those frontline journalists who work without recognition.

Sound connection with international organizations is one of the edges of JA. Apart from sending representatives to attend international conferences, we also briefed foreign guests on freedom of expression of Hong Kong under request. And the publication of the annual report on freedom of expression helps our work in this regard.  

Another constant work of JA is the publication of The Journalist. We produced three issues and the newest one will be delivered in July. It is due to the tireless effort of the Editorial Board and volunteers that the periodical can be produced on time. It is believed that their efforts have been rewarded by the praise of readers.   

15% Jump in Membership Size
The efforts of the JA have been recognized by our fellow reporters and thus more members have been recruited (see table 3). Our membership reached a peak last February with 472 members, representing a 23% jump from the 381 members when we took up the office last June. It was higher than our election pledge of twenty percent increase in membership. 

However, after some members, number of whom left the industry, failed to renew their membership, our latest membership stands at 439 which represents a 15 percent increase from last June. The failure to deliver our election pledge is one weakness of our work. We hope the incoming Executive Committee will keep on the work and make our membership size reach a new high.  It has to be known that membership is the yardstick of our work. Also, it is the source of strength for us to further fight for the whole industry.

In all, JA completed all this work with only two full time staff and twelve Executive Committee members because of the enthusiasm of executive committee members and the selfless contribution and support of all our members and non-members either from media or non-media sectors, to whom the JA should extend gratitude. 

Due to either personal reasons or the departure from our media industry, Ben Kwok, Tai Wai-land, Tse Chi-fung and Steve Chan will step down. The Executive Committee is grateful for their contribution in the past year and wishes them great success in their new careers.

The Executive Committee,
Hong Kong Journalists Association
19th June, 2010

Table 1The Welfare and activities carried out by HKJA in 2009/10
ActivitiesWelfareCo-organized News Awards
1Macau Exchange Tour(27–28/10/09)Ocean Park Admission Ticket Discount14th Annual Human Rights Press Awards
2Luncheon (Guest: Chief Secretary Henry Tang)(18/12/09)Disneyland Admission Ticket Discount10th Annual Consumers’ Right Reporting Awards
3Dinners with Dr Joseph Lian
(9 & 31/1/10)
Shopping Discount at Organic Baby1st Annual Kam Yiu-yu Press Freedom Awards
425th JA Football Cup
(11/09 – 2/10)
Special Offer at Independent Wine Centre
5Sharing on News Coverage of ‘Express Rail Link’
Discount Offer for camera and accessories at Official Panasonic Shops
6Luncheon (Guest: Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Kevin Zervos)
Discount Offer for Victorinox Multi- tools(with the Logo of HKJA)
7Hong Kong Geopark Tour
Dining Offer at Pizza Hut
8The 42nd Anniversary Gala Dinner
Dining Offer at Nam Ah Restaurant
9St John Ambulance First Aid Couse
Dining Offer at Crowne Plaza Causeway Bay Hotel
10Meeting the Director of ‘Mouth Piece’(a documentary about Shen Zhen Media Group)

Table 2JA Activities related to Freedom of Press and Expression
1‘Release Liu Xiaobo’ Statement
Submission on the Telecommunication (Amendment) Bill 2009
‘Release Liu Xiaobo’ Signature Campaign
2Letter to the Legco on Alleged Assault on a journalist by Mrs Mugabe
Submission on the Public Broadcast Service
Sent 15,263 Signatures collected to the Liaison Office
3Statement Condemning South China Media
The Future of RTHK
Protest Abuse of Reporters in Sichuan & Xinjiang
4Statement urging release of Tan Zuo-ren
Response to Outline   Third Report of the HKSAR under the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Protest Abuse of Reporters in Sichuan & Xinjiang and a Statement
5Statement Condemning Sichuan Police Abusing Reporters
New Year’s Day March for ‘Release Liu Xiao-bo’
6Statement Condemning  Abuse of Reporters in Xinjiang
‘Release Liu Xiao-bo’Candlelight Vigil
7Statement condemning killing of journalists in the Philippines
Participating in May Day March
8Statement regretting  reporters barred entry by Macau Authority
9Statement on Need for Freedom on Information Act
10‘Release Tan Zuo-ren’and condemning the interference of news gathering by Sichuan Police Statement
11Statement protesting the Verdict of Liu Xiao-bo
12‘Release Hu Jia for Medical Parole’Statement
13Support Press Freedom in Iran Statement (3/5/10)
14Open Letter on‘The Media Arrangement of Liaison Office Press Conference Should be Open and Fair’
15Call for Improved Media Arrangements in  Government’s “Act Now”Campaign Statement

Table 3: The statistics of HKJA membership as at 18th June 2010
 Full MemberAssociate MemberPR MemberStudent MemberRetire MemberTotal
Member No in 09-1030321357010439
New Member in 09-107718570139
Expired Member in 09-10425311061
Terminated Member in 09-1011702020