Lawmakers have rejected a request by the pan-democrats to summon government officials to testify as to why the work visa of Financial Times editor Victor Mallet was not renewed recently.
Hong Kong First's Claudia Mo, who introduced the motion, said the visa refusal has sparked concerns over press freedom as the government decision has been linked to a talk by pro-independence activist Chan Ho-tin at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, which was chaired by Mallet.
Senior government officials and representative from the foreign ministry had criticised the club for this event, saying it was providing a platform for separatists.
During the Legco discussion, Mo said the refusal to renew the British journalist's visa does Hong Kong's international image no good.
But pro-government lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who represents the publication sector, said Mallet organised and chaired the talk and he shouldn't have done that.
Ma also said it is normal practice for many jurisdictions around the world not to make explanations when refusing visa renewals.
Speaking before the vote, Security Secretary John Lee said it is not appropriate to make public their reasons for the visa decision. He said this information involves privacy issues, and some people may use these details to get around current government restrictions.
Lee also said that the incident has nothing to do with political suppression or press freedom, but repeated that the SAR government would not tolerate any advocacy of Hong Kong independence.
Later the lawmakers voted down Mo's motion by 36 votes to 24.
Bid to summon officials over Mallet visa rejected
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