Journalists back petition against privacy law

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 January, 2013, 5:00am

The Hong Kong Journalists Association says it has received a "record-breaking" response to an industry-wide petition against the proposed change to the Companies Ordinance, with hundreds of signatures from the city's local and foreign media.

HKJA's chairwoman Mak Yin-ting will announce this morning details of the petition and its campaign to stop the changes from taking effect.

Danny Lau, honorary chairman of the Small and Medium Enterprises Association, and Mung Siu-tat, head of the Confederation of Trade Unions, will lend their support to the campaign.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club has also written to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying asking why the media was not consulted about the changes.

Bob Dietz, coordinator of the Asia programme for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said there had been fierce opposition from banks, investors and the media since the proposal came to light.

But the government could turn this around by starting a meaningful discussion with the proposal's critics, he said.

"They could step back from this and re-negotiate the legislation and do what people feel hasn't been done," Dietz told the Sunday Morning Post yesterday.

Dietz, who worked as a senior editor for seven years from 1995 at the now-defunct Asiaweek magazine in Hong Kong and is now based in the US, said the proposed changes appeared to be "part of a larger trend".

"Looking from the outside, it seems like a downward trend for media in Hong Kong, and we are getting the sense that things aren't as free-wheeling as they used to be," he said.

"Increasingly, the government is less amenable to accepting criticism, and Hong Kong is heading in the wrong direction towards suppressing information."

Dietz said the city consistently ranked high in terms of transparency and a good place to do business, "but these sorts of changes start to undercut that and [Hong Kong] will lose that reputation".

Banks have also voiced their opposition to the proposed changes, fearing that the changes will make it more difficult for staff to carry out their due diligence.