Head of RTHK admits there was pressure over politics

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 October, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 October, 1999, 12:00am

Director of Broadcasting Cheung Man-yee, who is being transferred to a trade post in Tokyo, admitted yesterday there had been political pressure during her 13 years as head of RTHK.

But she dismissed claims she was being moved because Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa believed RTHK was too critical of the Government.

Speaking on her return from Belfast, where she was holidaying when the job change was announced, Miss Cheung said government appointments did not usually involve political considerations.

'It's unavoidable that there are different views in the community on RTHK.

'Unfortunately, the dissenting views are sometimes a bit louder. So everybody thinks the dissenting views create very great political pressure.

'I'm not pretending there was no political pressure. Personally, I have never felt that such pressure would affect me.' Asked whether Mr Tung had explicitly or implicitly urged her to change her job, Miss Cheung would only say: 'Mr Tung wanted me to have a promotion.' However, she said she had not chosen the trade post just because it was a promotion.

She believed that if she moved jobs, it should be to a different environment.

Over the past two years, people had asked her on and off whether she would move on, either in or out of the Government. She had thought of staying at RTHK until retirement or resigning early and going on a round-the-world tour.

Miss Cheung dismissed claims RTHK's editorial independence would be eroded by her departure. And she said she saw no reason why Taiwan representatives should not be allowed to speak on RTHK.

When Taiwan de facto envoy Cheng An-kuo spoke on statehood on an RTHK programme earlier this year, there was criticism from pro-Beijing figures, leading to speculation this had triggered the move to transfer Miss Cheung.

In 1997, veteran Beijing adviser Xu Simin accused RTHK of not being supportive enough of the Government.

'If in the attempt to upset no one and to disturb no organisation, we do not go into depth on important issues, then we will not be discharging our duties properly,' she said.

Miss Cheung said a propaganda station was not needed. 'If RTHK were to become one, it would only result in the loss of its credibility and the public will no longer listen to it.' There had been worries that RTHK would suffer immediately after the handover, she said, but that had not happened.

'All the programmes which people worried about are still here. Nothing has been axed. The editorial independence is still here. Different voices can still be heard on RTHK,' she said.

Miss Cheung's transfer will be raised by the pressure group Human Rights Monitor at a United Nations meeting on Friday which will discuss human rights in the SAR since the handover.