Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam’s press officer has told HKFP that digital media will not be allowed to access a press conference about Lam’s cabinet picks.

Online outlets will be barred from attending Wednesday’s media event, and will be unable to ask questions on behalf of the public. The policy is in line with the government’s widely condemned ban which prevents reporters whose outlets do not have a print edition from receiving government press releases or attending government press events.

After Lam was selected as the city’s next leader in March, she pledged to “seriously and actively consider” granting access to online media.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

Last week, the government told HKFP that it is “is reviewing the current practice and is striving to complete the review as soon as practicable. We will communicate with the industry on the outcome and recommendations when available.”

The review has been under way for over six months and the authorities have refused to say how long it may take.

July 1 ban

Online outlets are also barred from covering official events related to the July 1 anniversary of the Handover and Lam’s inauguration.

YouTube video

The ban remains in place despite months of criticism from local and international media watchdogs, and a decision by the Ombudsman in December which ruled that the government should review its “unfair” policy.

Local outlets with print editions, international broadcasters and news wires will be able to cover Lam’s press events and the Handover anniversary and inauguration events as normal.

In April, Paris-based journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders downgraded Hong Kong in its global Press Freedom Index by four places to 73. A month later, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said that Hong Kong is committed to press freedom: “We will continue to partner with the press and the media to make Hong Kong flourish and thrive.”

HKFP has produced 323 stories relating to Lam.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.