2007年7月27日星期五

Oiwan update: TELA and OAT won't answer her questions

Blogging related to Oiwan's situation has slowed down a little, but her case remains one that will likely put Hong Kong on the long and astonishing list of countries which practice internet censorship worldwide. There had been some very strong criticisms made against Oiwan and those who support her by one Hong Kong blogger last week, who has since deleted his entire blog and disappeared. Very thoughtful and useful discussion of what Beifeng wrote regarding Oiwan's case has continued at bezdomny ex patria:

I’m not convinced that the fight should be with the law instead of with TELA or its functionaries. It seems to me that a large part of the problem is TELA’s cackhanded application of the law. But yes, absolutely: Who is Oiwan Lam (or Rebecca Mackinnon or Roland Soong or me or anybody) to arbitrarily shout “TELA is wrong, I am right, this photo is not indecent!” It does often seem that liberals are not really as liberal as they claim and they spend just as much time trying to impose their standards on society as the conservatives who seem to have taken over TELA. But on the other hand, I don’t think this is the point. Oiwan’s posting of a photo of a topless woman may have been ill-advised, and Beifeng does make a good point in that Oiwan sounds like a TELA official arbitrarily imposing standards of what is decent or indecent, but the point of posting that photo was to expose the serious problems in TELA’s application of the law and the absurdities that result from TELA’s actions.


Hong Kong blogger and Hong Kong University journalism Professor Rebecca MacKinnon has been blogging overtime to bring us the latest update, in which Oiwan finds attempts to obtain information crucial to her defense stymied. She writes:

Oiwan has been trying to get more information from the Obscene Articles Tribunal so that she can prepare for her hearing with them. On July 17th she wrote them a letter asking the following questions:
  1. Where is the venue of the meeting which did the classification? Who had attended the meeting? Apart from the principal adjudicator and two committee members?
  2. How were the two adjudicators designated? Selected by the Registrar of OAT? Rotated according to the committee members’ list? Or by computer random selection?
  3. Had there been an actual voting? If there is, what classification is opined by the two adjudicators? What is the opinion of the principal adjudicator? If no voting were made, please describe how the classification was arrived at? For example, was the suggested classification made by any of the three adjudicators and then consented by all? If that was the case, who had suggested the classiication? .
  4. Among the two adjudicators, Mr. 薜國強 and Mr. 黃樂豪, did they express any opinion towards this particular article? If so, what are their opinions? Are there any minutes, written or sound record of that classification meeting? And their opinions?
  5. Had the principal adjudicator and the two adjudicators been informed of the fact that the photo is a hyperlink to flickr (an international photo sharing site with its own guideline for indecent material)? And the nature of the website www.inmediahk.net where the artile is published?
  6. Had TELA (Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority) or Department of Justice given any remark, comment, legal advice, reference materials, letter of complaint or supporting document when they submitted this particular case to OAT? If so, I should like to know the details of the above documents.

In her letter she also gave the following reason for asking these questions:

The above information is necessary for my preparation of witness statement, expert opinions, submissions, etc. as they directly affect the classification of the article – which can lead to a serious criminal charge. Am looking forward for your reply at your earliest convenience.

Writing on her Facebook page today, Oiwan updates us on the response she received from OAT:

OAT forwarded my letter to TELA, and TELA wrote back to them: "Futher clarifications from the applicant may be needed and the Tribunal may wish to ask the Applicant to indicate the relevance of the questions in relation to the full hearing".

OAT then replied to me in one sentence: "Please tell the Tribunal the relevance of the questions in relation to the full hearing".