Journalists' Rights should be Upheld

Text By Tracy Wong
translated by Teddy Ng

  There have been concerns in recent years that journalists do not ask questions at press events and what they do is simply record whatever the interviewees say. Ironically, when Hong Kong journalists raised questions to Philippines President Benigno Aquino in Bali, they were regarded as being offensive and had their media passes confiscated. The journalists were even subjected to close surveillance by Indonesian authorities. Hong Kong Journalists Association issued two statements on two consecutive days, stressing that it was not wrong for journalists to ask questions and that it was unreasonable for the reporters to be banned from covering the APEC summit. The HKJA also condemned the Indonesian authorities for restricting the personal freedom of the journalists, and found it unreasonable of them to accuse the journalists of posing a security risk to Aquino.

  In addition, the HKJA also sent letters to the Indonesian authorities demanding the journalists be given back their media passes, and to be freed of surveillance. The HKJA also sent letters to President Xi Jinping and Chief Executive Leung Chunying, hoping they would personally follow up the matter. It is disappointing to learn that the journalists were not given back their passes. Leung only said that he felt“ sorry”about the incident.

  However, the HKJA will continue fighting for the protection of basic journalistic rights. The HKJA, together with the International Federation of Journalists, representatives of RTHK Programme Staff Union and other journalists, presented petitions to both the Indonesian and Philippines consulates in Hong Kong.

  The HKJA also sent letters to journalists associations belonging to APEC member states and other international journalist groups, soliciting support to condemn the Indonesian authorities and calling on future host countries of APEC to protect the rights of journalists.It is of grave concern that such chaotic press arrangements will not recur when Hong Kong hosts the APEC finance ministers meeting next year. The Information Services Department said they would come up with appropriate press arrangements that would be convenient to the media after consultations with APEC secretariat and the Ministry of Finance of China, and taking into account the conditions of the conference venue.

  The HKJA will continue monitoring,to ensure that journalists rights will be respected and smears against journalists will be avoided.