Radio rebels break their silence with street show

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2008, 12:00am

The activists who run the outlawed Citizens Radio made an unauthorised broadcast last night after a three-month break - then vowed to go back on air again in Causeway Bay within two weeks.

The Office of the Telecommunication Authority had warned that they could risk being charged with unlicensed broadcasting if they went ahead with yesterday's event.

Taking part in last night's broadcast at a pedestrian zone in Mong Kok were the founder of the rebel radio, Tsang Kin-shing, veteran pro-democracy activist Szeto Wah, and the chairman of the League of Social Democrats, Wong Yuk-man.

Five legislators attended: Democrat Lee Wing-tat; Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier; Albert Chan Wai-yip and Leung Kwok-hung, of the League of Social Democrats; and unionist Lee Cheuk-yan. The Civic Party's Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who had planned to attend, pulled out for personal reasons.

The programme, Open Airwaves, went on air at 7pm and lasted for an hour on FM102.8 and on the internet. It drew a crowd of about 150. The legislators and activists took turns to voice their discontent at the government's refusal to open the airwaves.

Mr Szeto said: 'I fear no prosecution. It is civil disobedience.'

Lee Cheuk-yan said: 'The court has ruled that the telecommunications law is unconstitutional. We are not taking part in anything illegal.'

About a dozen plain-clothes officers were in the crowd. They took pictures and filmed the event, but did not intervene.

At the centre of the saga is a cluster of lingering and inter-related court cases. At an Eastern Court hearing in January, the Telecommunications Ordinance was ruled to be unconstitutional. But magistrate Douglas Yau Tak-hong suspended his ruling at the government's request, meaning the law stands but is open to challenge.

Activists are launching another legal battle against the magistrate's powers to suspend his ruling. The government had sought an injunction to force the station off the air while appealing against the constitutionality ruling. The appeal will be heard in September.

Some of the activists defied the injunction and were pulled into another possible court case, pending a decision by the Department of Justice. The injunction was eventually lifted by another judge.