Cut the FCC some slack in speaker storm

Decision to invite Andy Chan Ho-tin may be bemusing, but critics should not forget the independence advocate has already appeared on the government broadcaster

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 August, 2018, 7:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 August, 2018, 10:43pm

As a journalist member of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, I am torn and bemused by its decision to invite separatist Hong Kong National Party chief Andy Chan Ho-tin to give a talk on Hong Kong independence.

But I am also confused by the fierce reactions of the pro-establishment camp, all the way up to the chief executive.

I think Chan belongs in jail, but lucky for him, we don’t have such stringent national security laws in Hong Kong. On the other hand, I think the FCC should be able to invite whomever it pleases, in the name of free speech. But it probably doesn’t, despite profession to the contrary.

If the FCC wants to invite as speakers Holocaust deniers or Japanese nationalists who deny the Nanking massacre or army sexual slavery ever happened during the second world war, I wouldn’t complain or criticise. However, any one of those invitations would for sure cause a major public relations storm for the club.

Now, I don’t see Chan as being any more important and relevant or less nonsensical and dangerous, than those people. But somehow I doubt the FCC would ever invite those people, even if they were available.

Why the FCC must and will go ahead with independence activist talk

You see, free speech is one of those high horses that people jump on when they want to provoke and criticise others. Of course, the FCC won’t invite anybody in the name of free speech; it too has its own political correctness, just not the same one as Leung Chun-ying’s and Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s, respectively our past and current chief executive. Free speech for all? Rubbish!

However, I don’t understand why those two get all hot and bothered by the FCC alone. It is not the first to invite Chan to talk about Hong Kong independence.

After the police and Security Bureau declared their intention to ban his party, Chan was asked to take part in the weekly City Forum. It’s run by the government broadcaster RTHK, and its weekly debates among guests are widely watched, both live and online.

He also served as a co-host on MyRadio, an online channel owned and run by anti-communist politician and former lawmaker Wong Yuk-man.

Given the pro-establishment camp’s hostility to RTHK’s editorial independence, you would think this was a golden opportunity to attack it, likewise with Wong, who has been a thorn in the side of the government, especially Leung’s.

But nothing happened!

The FCC doesn’t deserve all the publicity or criticism.