Free Flow of Information Stalls in Hong Kong

 

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 

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

Find the

IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific