RTHK should help explain our approach, says Tung

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2000, 12:00am

Tung Chee-hwa said yesterday he hoped RTHK would help the Government by explaining its policies.

The Chief Executive made the remarks after non-affiliated legislator Ng Leung-sing asked if he thought the broadcaster should be obliged to help explain Government decisions better.

'I agree with you. On one hand, I hope RTHK will help the Government while on the other the Government also has the responsibility to do better,' he said while being questioned in the Legislative Council on the Policy Address.

RTHK's role was at the centre of a controversy when its former director, Cheung Man-yee, was appointed trade representative in Tokyo after Taipei's former de facto representative in the SAR, Cheng An-kuo, discussed the 'two-China theory' in a radio programme last summer.

RTHK stressed yesterday it had always been editorially independent in programme production and it had a set of staff guidelines to ensure content was fair and just.

An RTHK spokesman said: 'We are a public broadcasting body which aims at serving the public and operates in the interest of the public.

'When there are important government policies to be implemented, we will give sufficient air time for government officials to explain the policies and to exchange views with the public in our programmes.'

Cliff Bale, secretary of the RTHK Programme Staff Union, said: 'If Mr Tung is trying to say we should give the Government more coverage than ordinary media outlets, we oppose that.' But he said RTHK's independence did not yet seem threatened.

Gren Manuel, vice-chairman of the Journalists' Association, hoped RTHK staff would not be too concerned about the remarks and would continue to do their jobs in a professional manner.

'It won't help the Government if RTHK becomes its propaganda machine because no one will listen to it,' he said. 'What Hong Kong needs is fair and quality programmes by RTHK.'

But veteran pro-Beijing figure Xu Simin, a long-time critic of RTHK, said it proved Mr Tung had developed a better 'understanding' of RTHK.

'It is a government radio. A government will fall if its media does not support its policies. It is as natural as that,' said Mr Xu, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.