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Hamish McDonald

Biographical Notes from The Walkley Awards website for 2005

Print: Newspaper Feature Writing

Hamish McDonald, The Age/The Sydney Morning Herald, "What's Wrong With Falun Gong"

Hamish McDonald is the Beijing correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He has worked in Jakarta, Tokyo, Hong Kong and New Delhi. Since completing his cadetship with the Herald, he has largely written for Fairfax newspapers, as well as the former weekly Far Eastern Economic Review. He is the author of Suharto's Indonesia and The Polyester Prince, and co-author with Desmond Ball of Death in Balibo, Lies in Canberra.

In his feature on the continuing persecution of followers of the Falun Gong movement, McDonald tackled one of the most sensitive topics in China today. He told of one woman's experience in a labour camp and a brain-washing institution - called a 'law school'. In researching the story, McDonald worked independently to protect his bureau assistants from possible retribution. The story earned him a formal rebuke from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

In his account, McDonald made no judgment on the validity of Falun Gong, cult or not. In bearing witness to the repression of its believers, he struck a blow for freedom. This is his first Walkley.

Judges' comments

McDonald has written an elegant and humane account of the horrors inflicted on a persecuted minority, members of the Falun Gong religious movement in China. He followed the story with curiosity and perseverance and, most especially in this case, with the courage to discover fact and truth kept hidden by the Beijing regime. The secret police were never far away.








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