New regulations would restrict public access to corporate records and stall investigative role of the press
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum are concerned by proposals in Hong Kong that would make it harder for the media to obtain the personal data of company directors.
In a letter to Hong Kong's Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, WAN-IFRA and the WEF called for a halt to the proposals that would make it "much more difficult for journalists to uncover covert directorships, money laundering and other corporate-based crimes," and "inhibit the investigative role of the press."
The proposed change to the Companies Ordinance would allow corporate directors to apply to have their residential address and full identity card or passport number blocked from public view. Recent reports by the New York Times, Bloomberg and other media outlets have used such information to expose the wealth and assets of some of China's ruling elite.
More than 1,700 Hong Kong journalists, educators and professional organisations signed a petition in January calling on the government to withdraw the proposal, more than on any previous industry-wide petition.