Radio Free Asia report condemned

June 21, 2024

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today strongly disapproved of and condemned a June 20 Radio Free Asia report with a misleading headline, which made untruthful and smearing remarks against the invalidation exercise of the old-form smart identity cards.


In a statement tonight, it said the article concerned was written with the intention to mislead the public and defame the relevant measures and arrangements announced by the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Immigration Department (ImmD).


It strongly condemned the report and called on members of the public to ignore false information and discern the facts.


The article headlined “Hong Kong SAR government 'threatens' citizens to return to Hong Kong and renew their old ID cards - Will there be consequences for overseas Hong Kong residents failing to replace their ID cards?” selectively quoted phrases made by the ImmD at its press conference, thus falsely reporting and maliciously distorting the original purpose of the ID card invalidation exercise.


Radio Free Asia not only cited comments from a purported former immigration assistant claiming to be an insider and misinterpreted relevant legal provisions and legal consequences, it also did not make any inquiries with the Government prior to publishing the article or conduct any fact checking.


The Hong Kong SAR Government made it clear that Radio Free Asia completely violated media professional ethics and basic journalistic morality.


It reiterated that the invalidation of old ID cards aimed to detect the impersonation and possession of forged cards, adding that the arrangements were in line with the previous replacement exercise, which does not involve any form of intimidation whatsoever.


According to the Registration of Persons Ordinance, any person without a reasonable excuse but fails to replace their ID card during the specified call-up period is liable to a fine of $5,000.


Those who have been absent from Hong Kong during the replacement period will not commit an offence as long as they replace their ID cards within 30 days of their return to Hong Kong.


The ImmD had set out clearly at the June 18 press conference that the invalidation of old ID cards will not affect one's right of abode in Hong Kong and a person could still travel in and out of the city as long as they hold a valid travel document.


Radio Free Asia's deliberate distortion of the government appeal into a means of intimidating the public was an extremely irresponsible act, the statement noted.


The Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out that any person who enters Hong Kong with an invalid ID card will have to surrender their card and be ordered to apply for renewal within a specified period of time.


Under the Registration of Persons Regulations, failure to comply with the order to apply for renewal may result in a maximum fine of $25,000 and two years' imprisonment.


Without proper verification of facts, the report misled members of the public by conflating the two provisions and relevant legal consequences. Moreover, Radio Free Asia disregarded journalistic ethics and distorted the Hong Kong SAR Government's policies and measures in an utterly irresponsible manner.


The Hong Kong SAR Government's good intent in appealing to citizens to replace their ID cards has been manipulated into a conspiracy to suppress Hong Kong people.


The report is a piece of scaremongering, fake information smearing the Hong Kong SAR Government, therefore it is considered necessary to set the record straight.

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