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Hong Kong Journalists Assoc. protests lack of media invites to joint checkpoint ceremony

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has condemned the government for not inviting the media to cover the mainland port area’s commencement ceremony at the high-speed rail station.

A short ceremony was held at around 11:45pm on Monday, just 15 minutes before the one million square foot area at the West Kowloon terminus came under mainland jurisdiction. The joint checkpoints will start operating on September 23.

The press was not notified or invited to attend the ceremony, and the government issued press releases in Chinese and English five minutes after midnight.

Frank Chan Chan Ji mainland port area West Kowloon terminus Express Rail Link

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan and Deputy Secretary General of the Guangdong Province government Lin Ji at the mainland port area of the West Kowloon terminus of the Express Rail Link. Photo: GovHK.

“We condemn such arrangement, which is inappropriate,” the association said in a statement.

It said the ceremony marked the formal implementation of the joint checkpoint arrangement and the deployment of 800 mainland officers and staff members to work at the West Kowloon terminus.

It said the public is highly concerned about the joint checkpoint arrangement and the commissioning of the mainland port area will bring about profound impacts in Hong Kong: “It is a must for the media to be there to report the event and to interview the officials involved.”

“We question the Government on whether they have deliberately held the ceremony in a low-key manner. By doing so, the Government has seriously undermined the people’s right to know,” it said.

Frank Chan Chan Ji mainland port area West Kowloon terminus Express Rail Link

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan and Deputy Secretary General of the Guangdong Province government Lin Ji and representatives of the relevant departments and units of both sides at the mainland port area of the West Kowloon terminus of the Express Rail Link. Photo: GovHK.

On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam denied the event was a “ceremony,” despite the wording appearing in the government’s official press release.

“What has taken place at midnight at the West Kowloon terminus is a working level sort of a handover,” she said. “It was not a ceremony per se.”

She said a “simple and solemn” ceremony will be held on September 22, a day before trains start operating. Lam and Governor of Guangdong Ma Xingrui will attend. The chief executive also said media will be invited.

Hong Kong Journalists Assoc. protests lack of media invites to joint checkpoint ceremony