The Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) said on Friday that the government's decision to deny Financial Times Asia editor Victor Mallet a work visa goes far beyond the short or long-term future of the club in Hong Kong, and "creates an impossible working environment for the media" in the SAR.
It is widely thought that the decision is linked to the row over the FCC hosting a talk by pro-independence advocate Chan Ho-tin on August 14. As the club's first vice-president, Mallet had defended the decision, saying it was a freedom of press issue.
In a statement issued hours after Mallet left the city before his seven-day tourist visa expired, the club said the work visa issue goes far beyond the FT's Hong Kong bureau losing its Asia news editor, and beyond Mallet himself.
"This visa decision suggests that free speech may not be permitted in certain unspecified areas," the club said.
The FCC said in the absence of an official reason or a clear explanation from the government, the decision appears arbitrary and lacking any basis in Hong Kong law.
It "creates an impossible working environment for the media" in Hong Kong, the club warned. "The rule of law is an essential feature of Hong Kong’s identity and its success as an international financial and commercial centre," the statement added.
The club urged the government to explain its action or to reverse the decision.
The statement ended with the club vowing to continue to provide a platform for the "exchange of ideas on a wide range of topics that concern Hong Kong, Asia and the world".
Visa decision makes media work impossible: FCC
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