No surprise reporter’s visa was refused

What did Foreign Correspondents’ Club acting head Victor Mallet and his supporters expect would happen when he invited a Hong Kong separatist to make the case for independence in a speech?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 11:00pm

It’s painful to watch so many sanctimonious, self-appointed critics working overtime after the Hong Kong government decided not to renew the work visa of a foreign reporter. Frankly, what did he and his supporters expect?

As its acting head, Victor Mallet invited a Hong Kong separatist, Andy Chan Ho-tin, to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club to make a case for independence. Disclosure: I am a member of the club and am most concerned about its lease with the government, which could be affected as a result.

It’s possible the veteran Financial Times journalist didn’t get his visa for reasons completely unrelated to the Andy Chan controversy; in which case we are all talking nonsense. But for argument’s sake, let’s ignore that possibility for now.

Mallet claimed it was a legally protected exercise in free speech. Others such as yours truly begged to differ and thought Chan was exploiting the occasion like countless others to advocate his cause, but with a far greater bang because of its guaranteed exposure to a much wider international audience than he was accustomed to.

Britain demands explanation over rejection of visa renewal for journalist Victor Mallet

Mallet knew at the time that the Hong Kong National Party was already considered a threat to local public order and national security, and that it faced being banned under the Societies Ordinance.

A few weeks after his speech, Chan’s party was banned, just like triad societies had been before him. Mallet defended his invitation on first principle. But what’s his is not mine. He could have invited a triad big boss, who would make a more interesting topic for foreigners.

This is my first principle: the fight against separatism overrides free speech, which, in most other cases, should be protected. China has good reason to worry about separatism.

Hong Kong independence is against the Basic Law, the national constitution, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and all diplomatic conventions and international law, which recognises the city as an integral part of China.

Opposition critics have observed that visa refusal for a foreign reporter is a first. That’s because it’s the first time Hong Kong has to deal with separatism! They warn Hong Kong will not be the same after this. Well, we stopped being a British colony and became part of China two decades ago. Deal with it. We now have responsibilities, constraints and obligations we didn’t have before.

Britain demands an “urgent” explanation, while the United States has expressed concern. We needn’t bother with them. Haven’t they banned foreign reporters, too? Google them yourself.