Why Hong Kong FCC can’t be frying cheap omelettes while flying the freedom banner
The egg-white omelettes that Alex Lo relishes (“Don’t be such a bad egg CY, leave the FCC alone”, September 15), like the drinks at the club bar, are served at subsidised prices because the Foreign Correspondents’ Club acquired the government lease without having to go through competitive bidding – one only has to compare the rent that the FCC pays the government to those paid by eateries and bars in the neighbourhood, Lan Kwai Fong included.
And, unlike clubs that obtained their premises under the government’s “private recreational leases” policy, the FCC does not open its facilities to non-members the way that, for example, the Fanling golf club has. Instead, the FCC has created different classes of membership. “Journalist members” pay a joining fee of only HK$3,000, while HK$35,000 are required of non-journalist (associate) members. So Alex Lo and other journalist members are subsidised also by non-journalist associate members.
The FCC lease is now the subject of public scrutiny because the FCC invited Andy Chan Ho-tin to promote Hong Kong independence at its lunch gathering. The premises are government property. If the FCC applied to the government to use, say, a community hall for three hours for the Chan event, no one would expect the government to say yes.
Activist Andy Chan delivers FCC talk despite protests
Instead of agreeing that it made a mistake in inviting Mr Chan to speak, the FCC flies the freedom banner, meaning that it will continue to offer its premises to separatists. It is also keeping its members in the dark by not registering a single word about the Chan event in the minutes of its board of governors meetings, which as a rule not only record such events, but also discussions that lead to decisions to invite or to decline.
I cannot think of a social club in Hong Kong, other than the FCC, that has been given such a large government property. Opportunities should now be given to other non-profit organisations, including press clubs, to bid for the use of the FCC premises. In the tender document, the government might require tenderers to undertake to serve egg-white omelettes at half the Lan Kwai Fong prices.
Leung Chun-ying, vice-chairman, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, former chief executive, Hong Kong SAR, People’s Republic of China