In November, we sent out a few letters that related to our freedom of expression in Hong Kong.
First, we sent a letter to the Commissioner of Police and expressed our concern on police’s investigation on an opinion piece written by a columnist more than a year ago in The Sun, part of the Oriental Press Group Ltd.
We had no intention to discuss the content of that article, but we believed anyone should have the basic right freedom of expression.
We later got a letter in reply from the Commissioner of Police, who reiterated his respect on the freedom of press. I hope the police could honour their words in handling similar cases in future.
Also, we sent a letter to the Secretary for Security, Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, in response to the Annual Report 2006 to the Chief Executive by the Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance.
The report stated that there was not a single case on interception or surveillance relating to media in the first five months, but we still hoped the government could make exception to journalists, who needed to protect their source of information. We couldn’t accept the government to make use of this law and chase the source of information of our reporters.
Turning to overseas, our heart was in Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency and banned electronic media from broadcasting violence and opposition. Journalists who broke the rule could face punishable penalty of up to three years in jail, making it the most severe media ban in the last 30 years.
We sent a letter in person to the Consulate General of Pakistan in Hong Kong on the eve of Global Day of Action, a pledge by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the International Federation of Journalists, for taking all immediate steps to lift censorship and controls on media and take whatever steps are necessary to protect journalists in their work.
Our actions above were all based on what we believed freedom of expression should be a basic human right. I believe the daily work of many of our members represented not just the voice of citizen, but also the rights to protect their voice.
Therefore, I urge you to participate in the Hong Kong Journalist Association’s co-organised Human Rights Press Awards, the only local award for outstanding reporting in this area.
Apart from human rights, let’s not forget the importance of social welfare. Our Consumer Rights Reporting Awards, jointly organized by the Consumer Council, is now taking submissions until January 11, 2008.
In the area of training, we organized a workshop for new journalists in November 3. We were lucky to have quite a few experienced journalists to share the secrets of interviewing in different type of news reporting. We have an upcoming workshop – “Password for Investigative Reporting” on December 8th with David Webb. Please sign up before it is too late.
Fan Ho Tsai