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Hong Kong: Advocacy Group Pressed Candidates of the Legislature to Reveal Position on Free Speech and Information Policy

In order to press the members of the 2012-2016 Legislative Council to defend freedom of speech and free flow of information, Hong Kong In-Media, a local advocacy group for promoting citizen media practice issued a questionnaire to all candidates, asking them to reveal their position.

The election date of the Legislative Council will be on 9 of September, 2012.

Pro-establishment politicians refused to reveal their position

Most of the pro-Beijing and pro-establishment political parties’ candidates, such as Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Union and Liberal Party did not answer the questionnaire. In addition, candidates from 16 functional constituency who have already obtained their seats without any competition also did not answer to the questionnaire. Among the 127 candidate lists, only 52 have replied, less than 45%, although the responding rate among the district direct election candidates is up to 55%.

Thumb Down for the pro-establishment 2012 Legislative Council candidates who refused to answer the free speech and information policy questionnaire.

Hong Kong In-Media's free-speech campaigner, Michelle Fong criticized the pro-establishment camp for ignoring Hong Kong people's concern and the society's core value in the press conference.

Strong consensus on information and speech freedom

Among the responded candidates, there is a very strong, almost unanimously consensus on issues related with government transparence, free information flow and freedom of speech. More than 95%:

1. The government should legislate for “informational freedom law” so that the press and Hong Kong citizens have the rights to get access to government information.

2. Government's internet policy should be guided by information freedom and free speech and avoid censorship and filtering.

3. The government should approve the issuing of three free terrestrial Television licenses [which has been approved by the Executive Council] within 12 months.

4. The government should open up the air-wave and develop community radio.

More than 90% among the responded candidates agrees:

1. The government should disclose the filter list of public and sponsored wifi service.

2. The government should exempt the criminal liability of derivative works in the amendment of copyrights ordinance.

3. The government should disclose the guidelines for the adjudicators in the categorization of indecent and obscene articles.

4. The government should clarify the definition of “indecency” and “obscenity” in order to avoid wrong categorization.

5. The government should invite the civil society and business sector in formulating policy on internet governance.

6. The government should improve the infrastructure for digital broadcast and encourage business and civic sector to run digital broadcast business and service.

7. The transformation of Radio Television Broadcast to Public Service Broadcast.

8. The government should legislate the “Archives Law” to keep record of the policy making process and policy paper.

9. The government should review the public security ordinance to protect the freedom of assembly and demonstration.

More than 88% responded legislative council candidates are against the introduction of new law to criminalize the speeches that insult police.

Hong Kong In-Media had also invited candidates from the culture and legal functional constituency to comment on the questionnaire. Both candidates from the legal functional constituency, Kowk Wing-hang and Wong Kwai-huen stressed in the press conference that there is no rush for Hong Kong to legislate for Basic Law article 23 on national security and they both supported free speech and information as a primary principle for future legislation work.

However, one of the candidates from the culture functional constituency, Siu Si Kwong believed that Hong Kong people has the responsibility to implement the article 23 and that Hong Kong people have too much “freedom” that sometimes hurts the society. While Chow Chun Fai, also a candidate from the culture functional constituency stressed that freedom of speech and expression is the core value of the Hong Kong society and a “must” for enhancing creativities in the city. The other culture constituency candidate Ma Fung Kwok, who is believed to be pro-government, had declined the invitation from the press conference and did not fill in the questionnaire to state his position.

Related report in Chinese from inmediahk.net

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