Image credit: Long Zijun.
Over 1,700 journalists, professionals, and academics have signed a petition calling on the Hong Kong government to withdraw legislation that would restrict the public’s right to information about company directors.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association, in a statement published online, says the ordinance, passed by the Legislative Council last year, was rushed through with “inadequate consultation and discussion”.
The association took out full page advertisements in the South China Morning Post and other newspapers Monday, warning that “secrecy breeds corruption” and listing the 1,768 signatories to the petition, a record breaking amount of support for the union.
The HKJA says in its ad: “Freedom of the press and free flow of information is a cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success.” With the new law in place, “the ability of the media to disclose any illegal or unethical activity will be restricted, resulting in an infringement of the public interest”.
It adds: “Allowing the public, including journalists, to examine the personal data of a director has long been a sound common practice, which has not been abused.”
Meanwhile, Confederation of Trade Unions chief executive Mung Siu-tat is also objecting to the change, saying it would prevent employees from finding out information about “unscrupulous employers”.
Bloomberg reports that unions may organise a protest march against the legislation should the government push ahead with the controversial plans. The American news organisation also came out in support of the unions and against the proposed legislation:
Bloomberg News last year relied on Hong Kong and Chinese identity card numbers contained in filings to chart the business relationships and assets of the families of China’s incoming president, Xi Jinping, ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai and the descendants of veteran revolutionaries, known as the Eight Immortals, who ran China after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. The New York Times newspaper traced assets owned by the family of outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao, also with the help of Hong Kong records, according to an October article.