Our Anniversary Gala Dinner ran smoothly thanks to our members and supporters on 2 June. I take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to you.
The 2005-06 Executive Committee meeting ended on 3 June and the 2006-07 Executive Committee Election kicked off after that. Ms Serenade Woo Lai-wan and Mr. LO King-wah won the seats of Chairperson and Vice Chair respectively. They both devote themselves to the mission and works of our association. With your full support, I believe our association will soon start up a new chapter. I, thus, give my blessing and overwhelming support to the new Executive Committee members and the HKJA.
Ching Cheong’s case was formally handled on 9 May. China’s Criminal Law stipulates that each case must be concluded within two and a half months. In addition to that, the defendant, his relatives and the People’s Procuratorate must be fully informed. As of the end of June, we still heard no news of Ching’s case. We then joined hand with the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Boarder to send an open letter to Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Mr. JIA Qingling, demanding a “Fair, Just and Open trial” for Ching Cheong.
Besides, under the present political situation in Philippines, journalists’ safety is always under threat; some of them have even been killed. The HKJA has sent a petition letter to Philippines president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, urging her administration to protect the safety of journalists. The Philippines is the second most dangerous area for reporters in the world, only ranking lower than the worst area – Afghanistan. Therefore, the HKJA will send our Chairperson Ms Serenade Woo and Ms. Mary Ann Benitez to join a fact-finding mission organised by the NGOs from both Hong Kong and Philippines. In the mission they will visit the local news media organisations and others NGOs as well. It does not only show our concerns to the situation, it will be also a support to them for building a safe environment for living and work.
The Interception of Communications and Surveillance Bill is under legislation, the content is disadvantageous to the journalists’ protection of their information sources. The HKJA has already sent a letter to make our position clear. You can find the details on the HKJA website.
Recently, the National People’s Congress passed a new Chinese censorship bill, in which media outlets that release inappropriate information regarding the handling of emergencies and their development, or that report false information, will incur a fine of between 50,000 and 100,000 yuan. It is obviously a draconian law and hazardous to the press freedom.
To maintain press freedom, Hong Kong and China still has a long way to go.