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Open Letter to Mr. Tung Chee Hwa on World Press Freedom Day

Dear Mr Tung,

Today, May 3rd, marks World Press Freedom Day. We would therefore like to bring to your attention two matters of grave concern to Hong Kong journalists.

First, reporters and editors are extremely concerned about the incident on April 25th, in which police handcuffed two journalists during an operation to clear Chater Garden - the scene of protests by right of abode claimants and their supporters.

As I am sure you are aware, the commissioner of police, Tsang Yam-pui, has promised a thorough review of the incident. We demand that the review be conducted in a fair and impartial manner, and if police officers are found to have committed mistakes, then they should be punished accordingly and the journalists should receive an appropriate apology.

The second issue we would like to bring to your attention is the possibility that Hong Kong may soon enact legislation banning subversion, secession, treason, sedition and the theft of state secrets, as laid down in article 23 of the Basic Law. We note in this regard reports that the government may speed up work on this matter shortly after you start your second term.

In fact, we have serious doubts whether such laws are necessary. We do not see any pressing need for action, given the absence of any national security threats in the first five years of the life of the Special Administrative Region.

We would urge you not to rush into enactment of these laws which could have a detrimental effect on freedom of expression. In particular, we would call on you to ensure that expression is not threatened in any way by such laws, through for example provisions that bar advocacy of opinions which may be distasteful to the central government in Beijing.

If they are to be enacted, we believe that prevention of violence, or the imminent threat of violence, should be the basis for such laws.

We hope you will actively address and respond to our views on these matters.

Mak Yin Ting
Chairperson of
Hong Kong Journalists Association

03/05/2002 13:41   updated more
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