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New press restrictions dropped in HK
( 2003-07-22 09:18) (China Daily HK Edition)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has bowed to media concerns by agreeing to remove two new restrictions brought in on Friday in the wake of chaotic press coverage of the resignations of Financial Secretary Antony Leung and Secretary for Security Regina Ip.

The quota of four reporters from each organization is lifted, and reporters can register their details at the entrances as before, without surrendering their reporter cards in exchange for permits.

The restrictions were introduced last Friday after Leung and Ip were mobbed by almost 100 reporters, photographers and TV cameramen when they returned to work the day after tendering their resignations.

After a lengthy meeting with media representatives yesterday, the government agreed to remove the two measures.

However, there remains one final barrier as the government insisted that no media interviews be held in the open space between the west and west wings of the complex for security reasons.

Director of Information Services Yvonne Choi said the government had never meant to obstruct press activities or to limit freedom of the press.

Two designated press areas are installed but it is up to the principal officials or unofficial members of the Executive Council to speak to the press or not, she said.

Deputy Director of Administration K.Y. Cheung added that for safety's sake, reporters should not chase after officials or conduct interviews in the open area. But most media representatives argued that since reporters have their own targets, they should be allowed to move freely rather than being locked up in the fixed press areas.

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