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FCC warns of 'impossible' media working environment


 

Below is the full text of a statement issued by the Foreign Correspondents Club on the denial of visa renewal of Victor Mallet.

The refusal by Hong Kong authorities to renew the work visa of the Financial Times Asia News Editor Victor Mallet has generated grave concerns both in Hong Kong and around the world.

The FCC has asked the Hong Kong authorities to explain this decision, which sets a disturbing precedent and undermines Hong Kong's reputation as a jurisdiction where the rule of law applies and where freedom of speech and freedom of association are guaranteed by law.

Andy Chan, convenor of the now-outlawed Hong Kong National Party speaks at FCC in August.

On October 9, the Chief Executive dismissed as "speculation" the link between the visa refusal for Mr Mallet and the lunch held at the FCC in August where he hosted Andy Chan Ho-tin, co-founder of the now banned pro-independence party HKNP. However, no alternative explanation has been offered. Throughout its long history the FCC has hosted politicians, businesspeople, professionals and artists of varied political persuasions, including senior members of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments and their critics.

The importance of this visa sanction goes far beyond the Foreign Correspondents' Club and its short or long-term future in Hong Kong; it goes far beyond the FT Hong Kong bureau losing its Asia News editor, and beyond Victor Mallet himself.

This visa decision suggests that free speech may not be permitted in certain unspecified areas. The absence of an official reason or a clear explanation makes the decision appear arbitrary and lacking any basis in Hong Kong law and creates an impossible working environment for the media.

The rule of law is an essential feature of Hong Kong's identity and its success as an international financial and commercial centre. The FCC therefore reiterates its call for the Hong Kong government to explain its action, or, in the absence of a reasonable explanation, to reverse its decision.

The FCC remains committed to playing an important civic role in facilitating debate and exchange of ideas on a wide range of topics that concern Hong Kong, Asia and the world. We will continue to welcome speakers with a range of views, including pro-establishment figures as well as Hong Kong government and Chinese officials.

12 October 2018


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