Standards eased for broadcast chief's job

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2008, 12:00am

Post re-advertised at lower academic level

The government has been forced to re-advertise the position of Director of Broadcasting with lower academic qualifications after none of the 20 applicants was considered suitable to lead RTHK.

But the relaxation to include non-degree holders has raised concerns that the government is trying to tailor-make the job for someone previously unqualified.

A Democrat legislator described the move as a humiliation for the government broadcaster, while staff unionists said morale had been dealt another heavy blow.

RTHK's future is already shrouded in uncertainty after the government decided to delay public talks on whether Hong Kong needs a new public service broadcaster.

New advertisements for the position that appeared on the internet and in some newspapers yesterday said candidates without a university degree but with at least 15 years' experience in the broadcasting or the media field could apply.

A government spokesman said the agency appointed to assist with the recruitment had advised lowering the qualifications because a university degree in media studies was not common in those days.

The spokesman denied the change was being tailor-made for a particular person, saying lowering the qualifications would widen the pool of candidates.

Cheung Man-kwong, of the Democratic Party, said the change in qualification requirement appeared to be directed at fitting a particular person.

He described the change as a 'humiliation' for RTHK. 'Is it really a case of cutting one's feet to suit the shoe? Or [does] the government already have someone in mind?' he asked.

RTHK talk show host Robert Chow Yung, who had earlier been approach by a headhunter for the post, said he would study the new ad.

'That I do not hold a degree is a fact already known for 40 years. In fact I joined the ICAC at the age of 24, and I was promoted two grades in six years. I believe they looked at my work performance, not only academic qualifications.'

Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah expressed worries that if Mr Chow was seen as pro-government and that he was given the job, RTHK might become a government mouthpiece.

RTHK Programme Staff Union chairwoman Janet Mak Lai-ching said the government's move forced it to question whether the government had someone in mind for the post.

She said if the new director's academic qualifications were inferior to subordinates, he or she could not command respect and support.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma Si-hang declined to comment, but a source quoted Mr Ma as saying lower qualifications did not mean a non-degree holder was destined for the post. The government still hoped to receive applications from candidates with high academic standing, Mr Ma was quoted as saying.

Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun said he could not understand why the qualifications had to be lowered. 'But [not having] a degree doesn't necessarily mean he or she is not smart,' he said.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairman Tam Yiu-chung said finding the right candidate was difficult because RTHK was going through a sensitive period. He said it was important that the change helped identify the right candidate rather than it be tailor-made for someone.

The SaveRTHK Campaign said the government should explain why all candidates had been rejected.

RTHK acting deputy director Tai Kee-man, who put himself forward for the position, said in an RTHK interview that he would apply again.

The post became vacant after former director Chu Pui-hing sought early retirement after a scandal involving a karaoke hostess.