The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has expressed disappointment that the government did not include some of the questions raised by reporters at Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s urgent press conference on Tuesday.
Lam called a press conference at 4am following the clearance of protesters from around Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building. Demonstrators broke into, vandalised and briefly occupied the building, saying the government ignored their demands and protests over the controversial extradition bill.
The HKJA said an official transcript made by the government later recorded remarks by Lam, Secretary for Security John Lee and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo, but some questions from reporters were omitted.
“The government must explain the reason immediately, and explain the standard for choosing which questions from reporters are being published,” it said in a statement.
The HKJA said four questions were not recorded in the official transcript.
One reporter asked: “Some protesters occupying the Legislative Council said they were prepared to die, did you feel you were responsible? Did they feel they were prepared to die because the government did not respond to residents’ demands?”
Another asked: “What is your response to those who said this incident was caused by you not listening to the public?”
Two other omitted questions were about three people who died in incidents linked to the extradition bill.
“Chief executive, you often said there is a spot reserved for you in heaven, but can you face the families of three who committed suicide? Do you still feel there is a spot reserved for you in heaven, and do you think you will go to hell?” one asked.
Another asked: “Did you not see that some people have died for this incident?”
The HKJA said the press conference was held at 4am, so many would have to rely on the official record to understand the government’s response.
“Regardless of whether the chief executives or official responded, if the questions are tough, the questions and answers must be recorded and released without any intentional editing, in order to protect the public’s right to know,” it said.
In response, the Information Services Department, citing the chief executive’s office, told RTHK that the official transcript was not verbatim. It said that the sensitivity of questions are not part of the considerations in preparing transcripts.
It said some reporters were asking questions simultaneously and the chief executive could not answer all of them.
It also invited media outlets and residents to look at the video recording of the press conference.