HK Government proposes subsidiary law blocking media access to public information

 

Media Release: Hong Kong

January 16, 2013

 

The International Federation of Journalists joins its affiliate the

Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) in calling on the Government of Hong

Kong to withdraw amendments to the Companies Ordinance which limits public access to information.

 

The IFJ learns that the Hong Kong Government is proposing subsidiary

legislation which will restrict access to information

contained in the company registries, severely hindering media investigations

into crimes such as money laundering and the abuse of power.

 

Currently, personal information, including names, residential

addresses and personal identification numbers of company directors are in the public

domain. Access to company registries has enabled investigative journalists to unearth

significant abuse of power and illegal activities such as the recent

revelations about the Secretary for Development, Paul Chan Mo-Po’s involvement in

a business which owns illegally subdivided flats, the purchase of apartments by

Ding Shumiao – implicated in corruption charges made against Chinese Railways

Minister Liu Zhijun – at a prestigious Henderson Land Development site, and the

discovery made by foreign media about the huge sums of money held by the

families of Communist Party General Secretary Xi

Jinping and Premier Wen Jiabao .

 

Hong Kong has over one million private registered

companies and is an international business centre. The media has been accessing

company registries for many years without any complaints of misuse of information.

 

“Privacy cannot override the public’s

right to access to information. The media must be allowed to fulfil its watch-dog

function and duty to report within the public interest. ” IFJ Asia-Pacific

office said.We

urge Professor K.C. Chan, secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury to

withdraw the proposed amendment to the Companies Ordinance, to preserve freedom

of information and the media’s ability to report in the public’s interest.”  

 

The HKJA has launched a campaign to stop amendments to the

Companies Ordinance. We urge all journalists, journalists’

associations and unions to sign on to this campaign by emailing hkja@hkja.org.hk or serenadelwwoo@gmail.com before 22

January 2013 with the subject line “Stop amendments to the HK Companies

Ordinance.”

 

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

 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific