Yu Dongyue used to be Arts editor of a Hunan newspaper. He was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for throwing a paint-filled egg shell at Mao’s portrait in Tiananmen Square on 23 May 1989. Yu was released in February this year. His mother told me that his situation was very bad. When he came home he didn’t recognize anyone. His mind was messed up. His mother tried to consult some psychiatrists in Hunan Province. After treatment for 3-4 months, Yu recognized his father for the first time. Yet, he still thought his mother was the aunt from the neighborhood. He will become better after receiving treatments. I will take him to Shanghai after the sensitive moment of May 4th and June 4th, as you can find better psychiatrists in Shanghai. The treatment will cost approximately $50,000, his mother said. Previously, the HKJA had publicly asked for donations to help Yu and we received $3,750. Together with the $10,000 donation from the HKJA, we have transferred a total of $13,750 to his account already.
The HKJA and the “Ching Cheong Incident Concern Group” held a press conference on the 21 April, the eve of the one-year anniversary of Ching Cheong’s detention. We hoped to arouse continuous public attention to the Ching Cheong case. We also published a full-page “Release Ching Cheong” advertisement in the Apple Daily and half page in the Ming Pao on 22 April. There were 391 colleagues and 25 local and foreign press freedom organizations who signed. The Ching Cheong case has already been handed to the Procuratorate. We strongly urge the authorities to deal with the case in an open and fair manner which is consistent with the rule of law, to make sure Ching Cheong’s legal rights are respected.
The Ching Cheong case showed that it is possible for Hong Kong journalists to step into a landmine zone accidentally. As a result, we have invited our Honorary Legal Advisor for Chinese Law, Mr. Ong Yew Kim, to research and rewrite a new “Reporter’s manual for China”. Its extensive content could allow our colleagues to have a better grip of the situation. This would make them more confident in doing their work.
On 26 April, in the Director of Audit’s Report No. 46, RTHK’s financial control and resource management was criticized. From the report, it is easy to see their auditing method and some of the regulations are the result of not comprehending the actual situation in the media industry. We urge the Audit Commission to carefully listen to the opinion of RTHK’s staff and learn more about the daily routine of journalism.
On 29 April, some Sing Pao employees were forced to take industrial action by taking sick leave together. It was because Sing Pao failed for an extensive period to pay employees the wages and benefits that they were entitled to. Afterwards, some of the Sing Pao staff resigned. The HKJA condemned the irresponsibility of the employers in failing to pay salaries and urged an early settlement of delayed payments. To help those employees who were forced to resign, we hope other news media will contact us when they have vacancies and let them return to the work force soon. If any of them needs financial assistance, they can contact me or the HKJA office at 6155-0564 or 2591 0692. Our Executive Committee would discuss their situation case by case.
We believe you have already received the nomination form for the coming Executive Committee. I sincerely hope you could spare a minute and consider joining the new Executive Committee. The work in the HKJA could bring us a more macro-view of the industry, allow us to be on the frontiers in this industry, and pave the way to press freedom and freedom of expression. If you would like to learn more about the work in the HKJA, you could contact me at anytime. I would be happy to receive your phone call and tell you more about our work.
Finally we have confirmed that our good old friend, Mr. Ronald Arculli, will be our Guest of Honour at the Gala Dinner this year. After the efforts of the HKJA staff, we have received enthusiastic support and will have 49 tables, a historical high, on the night of Annual Dinner. We will reserve a table this year and invite to it those who have made a tremendous contribution to the HKJA.