HKJA statement on May 21 briefing to foreign correspondents by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ representative in Hong Kong

  • The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in HKSAR (the Office) held a briefing for foreign correspondents based in Hong Kong on May 21. The briefing addressed topics related to the Government’s proposed amendment to Hong Kong’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. A spokesman of the Office said at the briefing the Central Government fully supports the planned amendments and told foreign media outlets to “inject positive energy” into their reporting on the amendments to the extradition law.

Deputy commissioner Song Ru’an told the journalists attending the briefing that he hopes foreign correspondents to be “fair, balanced and objective” in their reporting about the planned amendments. He urged them to “inject some positive energy” into their coverage of the issue so as to enhance others’ understanding of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) expresses regret to those remarks.

Media are regarded as the Fourth Estate. Journalists have the mission of seeking the truth, monitoring the government and revealing social injustice. As the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the remarks by the Office to ask foreign journalists to “inject positive energy” in their reporting could be seen as exerting pressure on journalists.

Amending the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance is an internal affair of the HKSAR. The HKSAR Government has already tabled the fugitive bill to the Legislative Council for scrutiny. It is the responsibility of government officials to explain the bill to various sectors of society. The Office is responsible for handing foreign affairs. HKJA regards it as inappropriate for the Office of the Commissioner to conduct such a briefing meeting for foreign media outlets on matters relating to Hong Kong’s internal affair, which may create confusion.

Hong Kong Journalists Association
24 May 2019

Press not free without freedom from fear — Joint signature campaign by Hong Kong journalists against fugitive transfer bill