News / Asia

Hong Kong Journalists Protest Proposal to Restrict Information

Ivan Broadhead
Journalists in Hong Kong have issued a petition urging the government to scrap a proposed law limiting the personal data corporate directors must make publicly available. Critics argue the amendment will restrict press freedom and protect potentially corrupt directors from public scrutiny of their business holdings.

The proposed amendment would end the obligation for business directors to publish home addresses and full identity card numbers on a publicly accessible corporate register. The plan will be debated in the Hong Kong legislature before May, and could come into effect early next year.  
 
Mak Yin-ting, head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, is the organizer of a petition to scrap the amendment.  She says despite its reputation for business transparency, Hong Kong is an increasingly popular destination for investors seeking to conceal assets.
 
“This amendment will hinder investigative reporting very much. We find the government is more and more stringent on the free flow of information," said Mak.  "The public interest is being jeopardized.”
 
While Hong Kong enjoys considerable legal and political autonomy from Beijing, critics express concerns the mainland government is pressuring Hong Kong legislators to enact the amendment.  
 
The debate comes just months after U.S. media outlets Bloomberg and The New York Times embarrassed China’s leadership with allegations of corruption that were at least partially substantiated by researching Hong Kong’s corporate databases.
 
The research indicated that multi-billion-dollar business interests are vested in the families of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and president-designate Xi Jinping.
 
Mak says the websites of both media organizations remain blocked in China.
 
“The review of the channeling of state wealth to Hong Kong via leaders’ families is a legitimate job done by journalists. So we urge the Chinese government to lift the ban as soon as possible to show the world China is allowing its people freedom of the press,” she said.  
 
Organizations including the Hong Kong Association of Banks - a statutory body representing domestic and international finance houses - agree that there is merit in maintaining public access to data in order to preserve Hong Kong’s reputation for corporate transparency.
 
However, supporters of the amendment argue a company director should be entitled to keep their home address and full ID number private.
 
“People seem to be fixated on needing to know where a director lives. Under the changes, [companies] still need to furnish an official address … the full name of the directors and some digits of the ID card," said Mike Wong, chief executive of the Chamber of Hong Kong Listed Companies.  "This is a privacy right a lot of people are advocating. Why would directors be any different?”
 
The petition, published in local newspapers Monday, represents just the latest public skirmish for Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying. Thousands took to the streets this month accusing the Beijing-backed appointee of lacking the vision either to alleviate growing poverty in the city or to implement universal voting rights. Recent opinion polls indicate Leung’s popularity has tumbled below 30 percent since his first policy address.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid