Speaking to The Young Reporter (TYR), a lot of foreign correspondents in Hong Kong have expressed their anxiety over the prospect of the continuity of their stay in Hong Kong after Victor Mallet, the senior editor of Financial Times, had his work visa-renewal application, denied. In other words, the senior editor was not permitted to continue working in Hong Kong.
Florence de Changy, who is the president of Foreign Correspondents’ Club, told TYR that she sensed that the young reporters, as well as those who had hopes of being posted to Beijing, were anxious about their fate.
In their anxiety, she doubted that they were going to put themselves out there anymore if the situation is not reversed.
Mallet’s work visa was denied some months after he served as the moderator of a forum owned by Andy Chan Ho-tin. Andy Chan happens to be the convenor of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party. This party was banned in August at the FCC.
Mallet was, however, issued a 7-day visitor permit on his return from Bangkok on the 8th of October. On November 8, he attempted to re-enter the country, but the Immigration Department denied his visa. He was not given any reason either.
According to De Changy, Mallet was not given any warnings about the implication of moderating the forum.
She went further to add that the government of Hong Kong did not always like what they do as journalists but has never stopped them. Another correspondent added that they were not clear on what was okay and what wasn’t.
Currently, the FCC has a 500-person membership who is either correspondents or journalists.
Most immigrants working in Hong Kong who do not have the permanent residence permit must renew their visas biannually. The law allows the director of immigration to grant visas at his/her discretion.
Hong Kong government refuses to give reasons for the visa refusal
TYR sent emails to the immigration department, querying Mallet’s case, but the department responded, saying that the government of Hong Kong isn’t going to comment on individual cases.
With no official explanation coming from the government, de Changy argues that the red line that marks the rules of visa issuance or refusal is opaque and asks that the government clarifies the rules guiding visa renewal.
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