The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply disappointed by reports that Hong Kong’s newly appointed Secretary of Education failed to publically disclose his official visit to China, in a shift in policy from the Hong Kong Government’s traditional practice of transparency.
According to various reports in the Hong Kong media, Secretary of Education Eddie Ng Hak-Kim made a secret trip to visit the Ministry of Education in Beijing on Monday 16 July. Neither Hong Kong’s Ministry of Education nor the Department of Information publically disclosed any information on the trip until after a press release had been released by China’s Ministry of Education at the visit’s conclusion on Tuesday 17 July.
Hong Kong Journalists Association, an IFJ affiliate, has condemned the practice of non-disclosure of official visits by Hong Kong government representatives as a denial of the public’s right to information.
In other news, according to Hong Kong-based newspapers am730 and Ming Pao Daily, a website established by Chinese dissident Wang Qi, 64 tianwang, was blocked from access via the Hong Kong Government’s free wireless internet service. The Office of the Hong Kong Chief Information Officer has said that the internet service’s system was outsourced to an external company, McAfee Web Gateway, and that the Hong Kong Government would not knowingly impede the free flow of information in Hong Kong.
“It is the right of all citizens to know the activities and expenditure of its appointed representatives”, IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said
“The IFJ understands that traditionally Hong Kong’s Government has disclosed all official visits by government representatives, in line with the principles of accountability and transparency. It is therefore very worrying to see a possible shift away from the practice of good governance towards one of secrecy”.
IFJ urges Chief Executive of Hong Kong Leung Chun-Ying to ensure principles of good governance are implemented throughout all government bureaus and departments, including those of transparency and accountability, to ensure full disclosure of all official visits.
We also ask Chief Executive Leung to ensure the continued free flow of information in Hong Kong, without political considerations.
In 2011, the Hong Kong Government announced the implementation of a new National Education Policy for all primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong, to be rolled out in phases. However, media reports revealed that one of the subject teaching manuals to be introduced was developed by a member of the Chinese Communist Party, who is a scholar at China’s Beijing Normal University.
The decision to use the manual has been strongly criticised by the education sector, students and parents, who argue that the manual will be biased towards the Chinese Government. A number of Catholic and Protestant schools have already announced that they will not implement the subject in this coming new school term.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
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