Call for approval system on media

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 February, 2012, 12:00am


Police have called for a centralised accreditation system for journalists following skirmishes between officers and the press during last year's visit by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang.

The suggestion drew opposition from the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), which said the plan would infringe on press freedom.

A police report reviewing arrangements for Li's visit to the University of Hong Kong, during which a number of student protesters were locked up and skirmishes erupted between officers and the media, was released yesterday - a day before the university is scheduled to release its review of the visit.

The university has been accused of allowing police to impose heavy-handed measures, and for sacrificing the institution's autonomy.

The police report suggested that communications should be improved between police, protesters, journalists and other stakeholders.

As Hong Kong media had 'changing faces', the report said it was difficult for police to balance the safety of dignitaries and access by journalists.

It said there was scope to discuss a centralised journalists' accreditation system, saying if the identities of journalists were already confirmed and listed, arrangements would become easier.

HKJA chairwoman Mak Yin-ting said the proposal was unreasonable. She said journalists already had to register at official events. 'It is ridiculous.

'Does it mean that people can become journalists only with government approval?'

HKU vice chancellor Professor Tsui Lap-chee said yesterday he hoped no heads would roll as a result of the university's review of events.

Denying he had seen the review ahead of today's publication, he said: 'The report is forward-looking and will suggest ways that we can improve.'

He added: 'I would not say whether I need to punish someone for [what happened]. Everyone shares in the responsibility.'

Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said that to avoid controversy in future a working group had been set up to prepare for ceremonial events for the 15th anniversary of the handover.

The group will liaise and co-ordinate with all the event organisers, including government departments.