Politics

2 newly elected committee members quit as security chief takes aim at Hong Kong journalists’ group


He also commented on candidates for the association’s executive committee, primarily comprising freelance journalists and correspondents of foreign news groups.

“At first glance, I thought they were from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club because most of them are foreign media reporters, and some are freelance journalists,” Tang said.

“Some are not even journalists, and their organisations are known to have accepted money from the United States and engaged in political activities in Hong Kong.”

Secretary for Security Chris Tang called the HKJA an organisation “with no recognition”. Photo: Sam Tsang

The only non-journalist candidate was Preston Cheung Ho-ming, a senior policy adviser at the Hong Kong Justice Centre, an NGO accused of receiving money from the US-backed National Endowment for Democracy in reports by Chinese-language newspaper Wen Wei Po in 2022.

Association members at a closed-door annual general meeting on Saturday elected Selina Cheng, a Wall Street Journal reporter, as its new chairwoman along with a new executive committee. Their term begins on July 1.

But the association later revealed Cheung and another newly elected committee member, Danny Vincent from the BBC, resigned right after the election.

It said they had initially asked to be removed from the race, but had to remain in the running as the association’s rules did not allow withdrawal.

Cheung said in a statement that “both the nomination and withdrawal were my personal decisions”.

Chan, whose term as chairman ends this month, declined to elaborate on their reasons for resigning at a post-meeting press conference.

But he rejected Tang’s argument, saying the association had updated its membership list every year in accordance with the law on unions and all members’ qualifications had been checked to ensure they complied with the rules.

“I don’t understand why he is highlighting ‘foreigners’. I hope it’s not because of race. We don’t discriminate, so anyone who has an ID card and is eligible for membership can apply to run for a seat on the executive committee,” he said.

The HKJA has four categories of membership, including “associate” members who earn less than half of their income from journalism, and “public relations” members.

Chan also said an NGO’s acceptance of funding from a foreign government did not equal collusion with a foreign force.

“We still have about 300 members today. Although this is almost two-thirds less than in our heyday, I believe this figure remains very compelling and [represents] credibility in Hong Kong. We still represent the largest mandate in the industry,” he said.

Chan said membership had recovered slightly this year, but reporters from local media were still hesitant to join.

While it was typical for young journalists to wait a few years before joining, he said, others might have concerns about repercussions under the current political climate.

Ronson Chan’s term as chairman is coming to a close. Photo: May Tse

While Cheng and other newly elected members posed for photos at the press conference, they did not join Chan at the briefing.

Ahead of the AGM, the association urged members to remain wary of a suspicious text message that a few members had received that discussed the risk of “surveillance” at the meeting. Some media outlets have since reported on the message.

Police chief Raymond Siu Chak-yee said on Saturday morning that it was irresponsible of the media to circulate and report on the unverified text message, which would mislead the public.

“In the face of some false information, why would you believe and spread it so easily? This is not a very responsible practice,” he said.



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