Chairperson Report, February and March 2007

Dear members, I would like to apolgise that the February chairperson report was not delivered due to inquorum of our ExCom meeting in March.  Therefore, I am conclusively reporting our works in both February and March in this report.   

This year is the tenth anniversary of the Handover. Lingnan University helped us to conduct a Hong Kong Press Freedom survey within the industry and among the public. The result was announced in February. Members who are interested can download the full report from our website. In short, the result showed further deterioration in press freedom, increase in self-censorship, and increased influence of government over the media. All these are undesirable in journalism and affecting the public’s rights to information. We strongly urge all our colleagues to be upright and fulfill their duties as professionals. Together we can strengthen the walls of a free press, freedom of information, freedom of speech and expression.

The International Federation of Journalists and the HKJA co-organized the “Train the Trainer for Trade Union Leadership Workshop plus From Association to Union Workshop” and the five-day programme was completed successfully. We had journalists associations’ representatives from various areas including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, and Taiwan participating. Moreover, Ms. Janet Mak, Chairman of the RTHK Programme Staff Union, and Hon Lee Cheuk-yan, the General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, came and shared their experience with us.

This workshop aimed at training the leaders of the trade unions and strengthening the trade union’s operations. It also strengthened the links between different areas’ organisations, so that it can facilitate our future cooperation in matters of common concern.

In addition, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released its annual report earlier, setting out various assaults on journalists around the world in the past year. The report also included the number of murders and imprisonment of journalists. According to the report, there were 31 cases of imprisonment of journalists in the Mainland China last year, putting China at the top of the list. Cuba was the second highest. Interested members can contact CPJ for the full report.

Chief China correspondent of Singapore’s The Straits Times Ching Cheong has been transferred to Guangzhou to serve his sentence.  Mrs. Mary Ching visited Ching Cheong again in March.  She found that Ching Cheong was unwell. Apart from taking medicine to control his heart disease, he needs to have monthly medical consultation.  The whole family is very worrying.  I hope you will continue to support the “Release Ching Cheong under Medical Parole” campaign. 

Regarding the long-delayed payment of Sing Pao’s case, I am glad to inform you that nine dismissed staffers successfully claimed back their salaries before the court hearings with the assistance of HKJA and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions General Secretary Lee Cheuk-yan. Besides, I met Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Mr. Stephen IP with our Secretary (a Sing Pao staff) and General Secretary in late March. In the meeting, Mr. Ip said that he had raised his concern to the Secretary for Justice over the magistrate review’s ruling on the non-payment of wages of Sing Pao Daily News. 

The 11th Annual Human Rights Press Awards 2006 co-organised by the Amnesty International Hong Kong, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong (FCC), and the HKJA will announce the winners on 24 March at a prizes presentation ceremony in the FCC. This year we received more than 330 nominations, among them there were many excellent works. For those who were nominated, it would be great to see you there and share honours with other journalists.

Our Chinese New Year tour to Tung Ping Chau was originally scheduled for 25 February. However, as there were no enough 50 participants, we regrettably cancelled the tour. It was a pity but we hope that our members can spare some time to participate in the later events or the next year’s tour, so that you can get to know the benefits of HKJA membership and enjoy them.

Lastly, I sincerely invite those enthusiastic members to stand for election for the next term executive committee.  Your participation and support are of importance to the media industry. Please take part!  

Unity is power, it can overcome difficulties, reduce dangers, and to ensure we don’t fight alone.

Chairperson Report, April 2007