Lawmakers in the city held a protest yesterday to show their support for freedom of the press, just as Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor was about start her annual policy address. More than a dozen pro-democracy lawmakers walked out of the Legislative Council ahead of Lam’s speech, chanting “protect media freedoms” and holding signs that said “Free Press. No Persecution”.
The protest comes after the government rejected an application by journalist Victor Mallet to renew his work visa. Mallet is the Asia editor for the Financial Times newspaper and first vice-president of the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
Earlier this year, he hosted a speech by Andy Chan Ho-tin – leader of a pro-independence party – at the club. The event angered authorities both here and in Beijing, and Chan’s party was later banned.
Mallet’s visa refusal has sparked protests in the city, and drawn criticism from Britain and the US.
Lam has faced a number of challenges since taking office last July. Democracy and independence groups continue to resist Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.
In her policy address yesterday, she gave her strongest warning yet against those seeking to split Hong Kong from China. “Hong Kong will not tolerate any acts that advocate Hong Kong’s independence and threatens the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”