Between the end of July and the beginning of August, Hong Kong has been hit not only by the unprecedented heat wave, but also the controversial executive order made by Chief Executive Donald Tsang and the drastic U-turn in Ching Cheong’s case that put press freedom and rights of citizens under challenge.
On 3 August, Chief Executive Mr. Donald Tsang announced the enactment of the Law Enforcement (Covert Surveillance Procedures) Order without sufficiently consulting executive council members or going through any legislative procedures.
The order gives the law enforcement bodies an untrammeled power to intercept (any Hong Kong citizens including the media) even without the approval from the court.
The HKJA is against the HKSAR government’s Law Enforcement (Covert Surveillance Procedures) Order, which is having insufficient consultation from public. This let the law enforcement bodies to have more chances to abuse their power; meanwhile it possibly jeopardizes the Hong Kong media’s effective protection of the confidential sources of information (please refer to the HKJA’s code of Ethics no. 7). This seriously damaged the press freedom and the rights to information. For that the HKJA objects this Order, which is legally problematic and practically damaged the press media.
After the spread of rumours in late July, the Chinese Authorities announced through the Xinhua News Agency that the Straits Times’ chief China correspondent Mr. Ching Cheong was formally arrested on 5 August.
On 6 August, the HKJA representatives sent their petition to the HKSAR Government and the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in HKSAR calling on the authorities to handle Ching Cheong’s case in a manner that is open, fair and in consistence with the rule of law. We have also appealed to the Chinese authorities to respect Ching’s civil rights including his right to contact his relatives, legal representatives and members from the HKSAR government and the Straits Times.
After the Ching Cheong‘s arrest, the HKJA organized a seminar, namely “Pitfalls frequently encountered while newsgathering on the mainland and ways of avoiding them” on August 13. In the seminar, Honorary Senior Research Fellow of Chinese Law from HKIAPS Mr. ONG Yew-kim; Senior China News Journalists Mr. Willy LAM Wo-lap; Mr. Johny LAU Yui-siu; and Mr. PANG Siu-tao were invited and shared their experience with our fellow members and colleagues.
On 6 August, an EGM was held in which three candidates where elected as executive committee members in the by-election. They are Kenny Coyle; Don Gasper; and Tang Kong Fai.
We expect the new Executive Committee would protect the freedom of expression, press and information as their predecessors have done in the past to make Hong Kong a better place to live.
By Acting Chairperson – Tam Chi-keung (Vice-chairperson)