Hong Kong’s Consumer Council will host the Consumer Rights Reporting Awards (CRRA) independently for the first time since the event launched in 2001, ditching two press groups it had partnered with for more than 20 years.
Until this year, the event was held in conjunction with the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA) to raise public awareness of consumer rights and celebrate outstanding journalism on the issue.
Last year, the council suspended the awards. The cancellation was first reported by Beijing-owned newspaper Ta Kung Pao, which accused the HKJA of being “anti-China” and disrupting Hong Kong in its report.
The council said the suspension was needed for a full review of the event while the HKJA expressed “regret and disappointment” as the move had been made without consulting all parties involved.
Speaking at Monday’s live-streamed briefing on the revamped CRRA, the Chairperson of the Consumer Council, Paul Lam, said the decision to hold the awards without the HKJA or HKPPA was “not involved with speculated political factors.”
Lam said there were instead “a combination of various factors” behind the “comprehensive revamp of the whole event,” including the fact that “the mass media has undergone some important changes in recent years.” He cited the wide use of social media to disseminate information as an example.
“We are very confident that we have accumulated sufficient ability and experience in holding the event by ourselves.” Lam said, adding that the council has hosted the CRRA for 21 years.
He also said that the consumer welfare watchdog saw it necessary to “take a more proactive role” in drawing public attention to particular issues and that it hoped to “increase the public’s participation in the whole exercise, in order to enhance its legitimacy.”
Despite no longer holding the event with the press associations, Lam said the council was “always very eager” to maintain good relations and to work with the media to enhance consumer rights.
‘Excited’ about the revamped CRRA
As part of the revamped CRRA, the council doubled the monetary rewards and added an Annual Topical Award as well as a Best Use of Social Media in Consumer Advocacy category.
The winners of the photography and tertiary student categories will be elected by the public via an online vote instead of by industry professionals.
Gilly Wong, the chief executive of the Consumer Council, told reporters during the same briefing that the new changes were “really good developments and initiatives” which made the awards “even better.”
“In fact, I really hope the media feels excited about the revamped CRRA,” she said.