Donald Tsang

Curbs on media in new Legco revealed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am


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More reason was found to criticise media curbs in the new legislature with the discovery yesterday that, of the four security zones in the building, the largest has the most restrictions, including on media.

An internal document from the Legco Commission, seen by the South China Morning Post, shows that the zone designated with the tightest security - the yellow zone - is the most extensive of the four restricted areas. The commission handles the legislature's administrative affairs and has managed the legislature's relocation to the Tamar complex in Admiralty.

The Legco Secretariat could not be reached for comment last night.

Lawmakers said they would urge the secretariat, in a meeting on Thursday, to give journalists more access to the building.

Reporters are forbidden to enter a large area between the legislative chamber and ante-chamber, and from using a number of elevators and escalators - which obstructs their work, they have complained. Commission members Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee and Cyd Ho Sau-lan have said these restrictions should be eased.

'There should not be any unnecessary curfew for reporters,' said Ng, a Civic Party lawmaker. 'The legislature has to face public scrutiny.'

Last Friday, media representatives complained to Legco secretary general Pauline Ng Man-wah about limits placed on the media during Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's policy address and question-and-answer session last week. Apart from the limited access, they said security guards were impolite to reporters and repeatedly blocked cameramen from taking pictures.

The secretariat said the decision to restrict reporters came from the 12-member commission, but Ho said its discussion had been abstract in nature, without touching on the practical details of the restrictions.

'Reporters were separated from lawmakers by a chain of security guards, but the commission was never told that there would be a cordon line drawn to separate the media,' said Ho, of Civic Act-up.

Separately, Legco President Tsang Yok-sing vigorously defended his controversial decision to evict radical lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung during last Thursday's policy address question-and-answer session.

'My decision to evict him was based on his overall behaviour, which was very unruly,' said Tsang yesterday after meeting Democratic Party members. He confessed to having made a mistake when he thought the person yelling 'shameless' during the policy address was Leung, of the League of Social Democrats. When Tsang checked the video, he discovered it was Albert Chan Wai-yip of People Power.

Tsang added that he was strictly implementing Legco's rules.

The heated exchange between People Power lawmaker Wong Yuk-man and Donald Tsang on Thursday prompted Tsang Yok-sing to expel not only Wong, but also Leung when he tried to raise a question under the Legislative Council's rules.