Explain abstention decision in person for accountability

Mr Ma Fung-kwok,

Last week, you abstained from voting when the Legislative Council discussed invoking its Powers and Privileges Ordinance to investigate the government’s decision to grant two free-to-air television licences instead of three, thereby denying a similar permit to HKTV. The relevant motion was subsequently defeated by the slim margin of three votes in the functional constituencies, and the government did not have to make public those relevant documents it had referred to during its approval process.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association find your abstention highly regrettable, and express our condemnation in the strongest terms. We are of the view that you have signally failed to comprehensively represent the interests of the  Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication sector, and that you did not try your best to fight for the freedom of expression and the diverse dissemination of information. This failure on your part reflects the sheer absurdity of Functional Constituencies in our electoral system.

Documents submitted to the Legislative Council recently showed that the Communications Authority had recommended issuing licences to all three applicants, a recommendation completely at variance to the Chief Executive in Council’s decision to grant just two licences. We believe this strongly shows that the government’s decision lacked sufficient reasoning and that it owes Hong Kong people a proper explanation.

You signally failed to exercise your right as a representative of our sector to express disapproval of such callous action on the part of the executive. Your abstention is tantamount to voting against the motion that sought direct and effective special powers of the legislature to look into this matter. Contrary to the interests of ourselves and the general public, you let the government off the hook.

Your decision to support the government in its black-box operation is totally at variance with the views of our sector as well as the interests of the general public, and thereby ignoring Hong Kong people’s lack of free choice in viewing television.

We are thoroughly dissatisfied with your failure to consult the sector before casting your vote. Your action is tantamount to a complete disregard for the views of the trade that you are supposed to represent.

We demand that you earnestly review this matter and explain, in person, the stand that you took in the legislature. You should also be prepared to answer questions from members of the trade to show your accountability to the sector, keeping in mind that accountability is the very essence of our system.

Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association

Is there something that the Financial Services Development Council wants to hide?
HKJA supports Legco "P&P" Motion for more information on Free TV License decision to be disclosed (Chinese only)