Events in Bali where the APEC ministerial conference is being held, have taken a shocking and frightening turn, with Hong Kong reporters being treated as a security threat.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association is shocked to see their questions, previously tossed at President Aquino of the Philippines, being placed on the same level as explosives and other fatal vice by both the Indonesian and Filipino authorities.
Not only were the reporters barred from the APEC Summit from Sunday onwards, they were yesterday stopped from re-entering their hotels and hounded every minute by the Indonesian officials. According to the Indonesia authorities, they have put the journalists on a surveillance list. No explanation has been given.
This development borders on the absolutely ludicruous and the so-called security threat concern is totally unacceptable.
First, the journalists have not entered any embargo area while they were questioning Aquino. They were questioning the President on the Manila hostage-taking incident which resulted in the dealth of eight Hong Kong residents.
More embarrassing or sensitive matters have been raised by journalists at international gatherings like this APEC conference. This is fully in keeping with press freedom in democratic countries around the world.
Second, not only the journalists questioning Aquino have been disqualified from the Summit news coverage, but also their colleagues working on the Summit. The so-called security concern can hardly justify this umbrella ban.
Third, by limiting the journalists’ personal freedom outside the Summit, Indonesian authorities are going way beyond security concern within the Summit.
The moves by the Philippines and Indonesian Authorities is nothing but a mean to gag foreign journalists from asking tough questions that is of public interest.
This is totally outrageous, unacceptable and must be quickly nipped in the bud. Not just by Hong Kong journalists alone but by journalists in the Philippines, Indonesia and all over the world; and more importantly, by governments involved in APEC.
To underscore our concern over this matter, HKJA will hold a demonstration at both the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia and the Consulate General of the Philippines tomorrow afternoon.at the Bali conference
HKJA is demanding that the monitoring of reporters be stopped immediately and the reporters be allowed to resume their coverage immediately. Letters have also been sent to the APEC Secretariat to express our discontent and concern.
The Association is also disappointed with the lack of action from the Hong Kong government in protecting the right of the Hong Kong press in the Summit.
The Chief Executive C Y Leung has expressed no concern with the mistreatment of Hong Kong journalists so far. Neither has the Hong Kong authorities managed to restore our access to the Summit or do anything about the restriction on the personal freedom of its citizens there.
The Association has written to Mr Leung to ask him to take up this matter with the relevant authorities in Indonesia.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association