Wed, Oct 10, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Lam refuses to explain journalist visa denial

HANDED DOWN:Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision had come from immigration authorities, but added that freedom of reporting is a ‘core value’

AFP, HONG KONG

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam takes a question during her weekly address at the government headquarters in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday refused to say why the territory had denied a visa to a leading Financial Times journalist, despite escalating demands for an explanation of the unprecedented challenge to freedom of the press.

Victor Mallet, a British national and the Financial Times’ Asia news editor, angered authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong by hosting a speech at the territory’s press club by Andy Chan (陳浩天), founder of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, in August.

An application to renew Mallet’s work visa has been refused and on Sunday he was given seven days to leave Hong Kong.

Facing questions for the first time since the visa denial emerged last week, Lam, who is appointed by a pro-Beijing committee, said the decision had been handed down by immigration authorities.

She said linking it to the Chan talk was “pure speculation.”

“As a rule — not only locally, but internationally — we will never disclose, the immigration department will not disclose, the individual circumstances of the case, or the considerations of this decision,” Lam told reporters.

She refused to directly acknowledge the specifics of the speculation over why Mallet was denied the visa.

However, Lam said that the government “will not tolerate any advocacy of Hong Kong independence and things that harm national security, territorial integrity and developmental interests.”

Asked if journalists could now be punished simply for granting interviews to independence activists or writing about independence, Lam said that she could provide no guidance, but she insisted that freedom of reporting and expression were “core values.”

Some pro-Beijing figures have publicly welcomed the ousting of Mallet, including commentator Wat Wing-yin (屈穎妍) who wrote in the conservative newspaper Ta Kung Pao: “We only asked you to leave and did not execute you by shooting. That is already the most civilized of protests.”

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