The Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) today invited Chan Ho-tin, convener of the Hong Kong National Party, to give a speech. Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung said the Government would not tolerate public advocacy of Hong Kong independence. He criticised the FCC for providing a platform for Chan to promote Hong Kong independence, saying it is “inappropriate and unacceptable.” HKJA deeply regrets the Government’s response.
HKJA considers press freedom and freedom of speech are two cornerstones of the success of Hong Kong. That FCC has invited speakers holding different views to speak and share their thoughts has testified the realisation of the two civil rights. It provides an opportunity for audience to raise questions, voice opposite views or challenge the speaker/s during the question session. Today’s talk by Chan is no exception. It is unreasonable for the SAR Government to define an invitation of speaker as a move to provide a platform for promoting certain political ideas. We worry that the position taken by the SAR Government and its views on this issue will create chilling effect, limit the room for people with certain political views to express their views through the media, thus undermining press freedom and freedom of speech.
HKJA urges the Government to clearly explain which Hong Kong laws a person has breached when he or she made a speech relating to Hong Kong independence. We also urge the Government to clarify whether media organisations would be seen as providing a platform to promote Hong Kong independence if they report, quote or interview people who hold such views – or invite them to attend media programmes. We also urge the Government to clarify whether these organisations would be prosecuted if they carry such reports or make such invitations.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
14 August 2018