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  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 8:53am
NewsHong Kong

'Privacy law will breed corruption' warns journalists' union

Journalists' union launches ad campaign against new rules to hide details of company directors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 January, 2013, 5:41am

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) today steps up its campaign to stop a change in the law that will restrict information on company directors available to the public.

It has taken out a full-page advertisement in the South China Morning Post and similar ads in other newspapers warning "secrecy breeds corruption" and listing the names of the 1,700 media workers and students who have signed a petition against the new restrictions - a record-breaking number for the union.

The move came after the government said yesterday it was consulting the Privacy Commission over its proposed change to the Companies Ordinance.

The HKJA says in its ad: "Freedom of the press and free flow of information is a cornerstone of Hong Kong's success." With the new law in place, "the ability of the media to disclose any illegal or unethical activity will be restricted, resulting in an infringement of the public interest".

It adds: "Allowing the public, including journalists, to examine the personal data of a director has long been a sound common practice, which has not been abused."

The HKJA also cites examples of how information found in the Companies Registry played a vital role in investigative journalism last year, to the detriment of some members of the administration and Executive Council.

HKJA chairwoman Mak Yin-ting said yesterday: "In future, when none of this information can be accessed, [journalists] will not be able to initiate investigations, or monitor whether powerful figures or officials are acting in their own interests.

"They can only go on what information the government chooses to give out."

In a statement yesterday, the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau insisted the plan to alter the Companies Ordinance was "in response to views gathered in public consultations".

The bureau stressed it had already reached consensus with the Legislative Council over the amendment to restrict access to some data, and full disclosure of information about directors would still be available to some people, such as public officers, fellow directors and liquidators.

"We are consulting the Privacy Commission to study ways to draft the subsidiary legislation, with a view to striking a reasonable balance between satisfying the need for the public to obtain information, and protecting the privacy of over one million directors, past and present," it added.

"We will also meet with media representatives to exchange views," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Confederation of Trade Unions chief executive Mung Siu-tat is also objecting to the change, saying it would prevent employees from finding out information about "unscrupulous employers".


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This article is now closed to comments

Now, complaining about this is a little late, isn't it??? What I do not understand is, that this Law was already approved through all levels to the instances in the Legco more than half year ago. Why now the journalists and some representatives do now complain about and protest against it? What were they doing half year back when this issue was going through for approval???? Nobody was aware of this! Nobody was informed (got too hippie with throwing bananas?). THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO!!!! TO PREVENT SUCH KIND OF LAWS. Throwing Bananas and yelling - I must say, you pricks are doing a very good job with my tax money.
Extremely distressing! More Sinofication in Hong Kong.... making a transparent system more opaque.
Yet another piece of legislation that seemed to escape the notice of the main opposition party at the time it was introduced into LEGCO. Dodgy directors must be wetting themselves with excitement at the moment.
I don't believe that it is advantageous to cover up the identities of the directors of a company to ensure "privacy". You you register your company your business partners should know with whom they deal with and so what of company your company is. I always check the background of every single company I am trading with including who is the shareholders/directors.
Has this been fully consulted? I doubt it! SME and alot of businesses relies on Company search to ascertain whom they are doing business with. Even some Gov department requests "printed" search copies of our own Companies to proof we are actually Directors of them! So, I really like to know, how shall I proof I am my own Company's Director and shareholder in future!
Head, nail, on, hit. Hoi Polloi.
Dai Muff
This is what happens when people use HK Companies Registry to investigate mainland leaders and their business deals.
The black hand from the north is at it again, hiding oil and water to make muddled water of HK.
The real story here lies in the catalyst for this govt attempt to hide the business dealings of the rich and powerful. Here's a clue, their HQ is in a city which begins with the letter B and they have shares in the hair dye industry.
Just wondering why the HKJA and the pan democrats lawmakers didn't raise any concerns last year when this law was debated at the Legislative Council. Should all these pan democrats lawmakers apologize and take responsibility and resign?
For the record, I'm opposed to this law. Personal data (ID and address) of directors of public company should be available to the public.


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