The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has expressed “deep regret and disappointment” with incoming chief executive Carrie Lam’s decision to bar digital media outlets from attending her press conference on Wednesday.

Lam’s decision is in line with the government’s policy which prevents reporters whose outlets do not have a print edition from receiving government press releases or attending government press events.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

In a statement issued on the same day, the HKJA said that the existing policy is unfair and contravenes the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights Ordinance, which safeguard freedom of speech and the press. It also reiterated that The Ombudsman ruled last year that the government should review its “unfair policy.”

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

The organisation also noted that Lam signed the HKJA’s charter pledging to uphold press freedom, along with the other two candidates during her election campaign.

carrie lam hkja
Carrie Lam with the press freedom charter that she signed in March.

“Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam has signed a charter to uphold press freedom, in which there is a pledge to allow professional online media organisations to attend government press conferences and events. We hope she will honour her pledge at the earliest time,” the organisation said.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club and PEN Hong Kong also voiced support for the statement on Thursday.

The ban means that online outlets such as HKFP will be unable to cover official events related to the July 1 anniversary of the Handover and Lam’s inauguration.

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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.”

HKFP has produced 325 stories relating to Lam. Its accreditation materials are accepted by institutions such as the legislature and Hong Kong police force.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.