Citizens' Radio resumes legal fight

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2008, 12:00am

Rebel broadcaster Citizens' Radio said yesterday that the government's lack of commitment to amending a controversial law, which gives it wide powers in radio licensing, had prompted it to launch another legal challenge.

Tsang Kin-shing, convenor of the radio station, said they had filed an application for a judicial review of the decision by Magistrate Douglas Yau Tak-hong to further suspend his own ruling that the Telecommunications Ordinance was unconstitutional.

Mr Tsang, who with five other activists was accused of unlicensed broadcasting, said the station had to resort to a judicial review because there was no channel to appeal against Mr Yau's decision.

'We believe that the magistrate does not have the jurisdiction to extend his suspension of the ruling,' he said. In his ruling, the magistrate had also said the law gave the chief executive 'unfettered and unchecked' power to control who could conduct radio broadcasts. The magistrate first issued the suspension of his ruling on January 8, after the prosecution argued that he must allow time for the government to appeal. Last Tuesday, the government applied for another suspension.

Mr Tsang told a media briefing he was not convinced by the prosecution's reasons.

'The government has no sincere intention to amend the ordinance. [It] is capable of acting quickly if it wants to - just look at the examples of the Link Reit case and the covert surveillance legislation,' he said.

He stressed that the station would go back on air after April 20 if the government had not provided a timetable to change the law by then.

In issuing a further suspension, the magistrate said it would avoid causing chaos and confusion.

But legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung said the government should amend the law to avoid chaos.

Mr Tsang, Szeto Wah, Mr Leung, radio host Peter Lam Yuk-wah, RTHK unionist Mak Chi-hang and Lo Hom-chau, who were accused of unlicensed broadcasting in Mong Kok last year, are due to appear in court on March 3.