Taking the bull by the horns

Written by Kaman Cheung, translated by Tony Cheung

  Sham Yee-lan, or “Sham Yee”, is an extraordinary veteran is the eyes of many reporters, and listening to her talk about the media is like watching a standup comedy.

  Sham, who is regarded as a passionate and speedy speaker, told The Journalist in an interview that she “dislikes speaking” – and she is still trying to get used to being interviewed.

  She said she is still worried about watching or listening to her interviews because she “doesn’t want to” see her face or listen to her voice on the electronic medium. She even asked her friends to pray for her about this, Sham added.

  While she took the helm of the association in the summer, Sham’s ties with HKJA goes back more than 20 years – when she was invited by veteran journalist Lee Yuet-wah to become an executive committee member.  She declined Lee’s invitation at the time because she was too busy reporting from the frontline.

  It was not until a few years ago, when she left finance magazine iMoney, that she realised that she should pay her “debt” and run for a post in the association’s executive committee.

  After working as an executive committee member for three years, she succeeded Mak Yin-ting as chairperson in June.

  Looking back at the last six months, Sham said she never realised the magnitude of her challenge and that Mak, her predecessor was “really all-powerful”.

  In October, the Apec summit staff in Bali, Indonesia, were criticised for “stifling press freedom” after Hong Kong journalists were ejected from the venue and their press passes taken away for "screaming" questions at Philippine President Benigno Aquino.

  Sham said that in the aftermath of that episode she was interviewed 13 times in one day.
“[Those interviews] were in Cantonese, Putunghua, and [the journalists represent] media on the internet, from Europe and the mainland,” Sham recalled.

  Her deputy Shirley Yam also shared her burden and handled several interviews in English.
Sham said the frequent interviews broke her voice and she hoped to get used to it soon.