The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA) welcome the decision of the High Court to reject an appeal from the Department of Justice(DOJ) over the case of Gary Sing, a former photojournalist of the Apple Daily who was acquitted of assaulting a security guard at the Tamar government headquarters at the lower court. The ruling has done Mr Sing justice and should put an end to the disturbances on him.
However, the root problem — the poor media arrangements at the government headquarters — has yet to be solved. We call on the government to improve the arrangements.
Mr Sing got into a tussle with the security guard last January when he was trying to take a picture of the then Education Secretary, Michael Suen, on his return to work after a sick leave. Mr Sing was subsequently charged with one count of common assault. The magistrate acquitted him late last year. The DOJ appealed to have the case retried on the ground that the magistrate’s decision contradicted common sense.
In upholding the judgement, Judge Maggie Poon called the DOJ’s criticism of the Magistrate fastidious, overdone and unfair. We strongly agreed with these comments. The judge has also rightly described the appeal as an endless argument over the facts of the case. These comments reconfirmed our belief that the DOJ has pursued the prosecution to intimidate the media.
It is the duty of a journalist to report facts, not to get into trouble. However, given the unreasonable and harsh media arrangements at the new government headquarters, the associations are concerned that Mr Sing’s case will not be the last conflict between journalists and security guards there.
Press access to the headquarters has been significantly reduced. While the media could question and film officials at the door step at the old headquarters, officials can now enter the building by car without having to face the media. As the journalists try other ways to reach the officials, conflicts with the security guards happen.
The HKJA and HKPPA have been discussing this with the government for more than a year but to no avail. We once again urge the government to improve the media arrangements at the government headquarters.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
13 September 2013