Dear Mr Leung
This is our urgent appeal for you to give professional online-only media full access to government press activities and facilities in relation to the election of the Chief Executive on 26 March 2017.
Under the existing policy, those media is excluded from all official functions and denied entry to locations where elections will be held. Not only does this arrangement deviates from the government's pledge of a fair, open and honest election, it is also against the press freedom promised in the Basic Law.
In this regard, we would stress that the Ombudsman had concluded in her December 6 finding that the Government has offered no convincing justification for its ban on online-only media from its press events. The Government is obliged to facilitate press access as part of the protection of press freedom stipulated in the Basic Law. Yet, the Ombudsman’s call for the lifting of the ban has yielded no result. Nor has there been any move towards accreditation of online media. In fact, there has been no discussion, whatever, with the industry in this regard. With less than two weeks to go before the Election, the Information Services Department has provided no accreditation channel for the online-only media. Letters and emails sent by these media seeking registration for the election day press activities remain unanswered.
Given the significance of the Chief Executive election, such continued inaction is not only regrettable but also unreasonable. The press area, which will be located in the Hong Kong Convention Centre, should be spacious enough to include those journalists. Professional unions have already proposed different ways of accrediting journalists that are widely adopted by various authorities overseas.
Ignoring what has become an integral part of life worldwide is not in anyone's interests, least of all the younger generation to whom the online medium is their sole access to the wider world.
Looking forward to your favourable reply, we remain,
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong
HK Press Photographers Association
Independent Commentators Association
Next Media Trade Union
Ming Pao Staff Association
RTHK Programme Staff Union
Hong Kong Free Press