New radio shows help fill the gap for South Asian community

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 July, 2008, 12:00am

RTHK's English-language channel, Radio 3, will be hosting two ethnic-minority programmes starting today. The two programmes - in Urdu and Nepali - are to provide news, culture and music to listeners.

The programmes, which had featured on Commercial Radio, are moving to Radio 3 days after a revised Race Discrimination Bill was passed in the Legislative Council. They are being funded by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau's race relations unit.

'The radio programmes are our continuing initiative to enhance the ethnic minorities' sense of belonging in Hong Kong, while retaining their own cultural identities,' a bureau spokesman said.

The programmes will feature a variety of information and entertainment, including music, news, current affairs and community services.

Nepali teacher and broadcaster Chura Thapa will host Saptahik Sandesh, or weekly message, from 7.05pm to 7.30pm on Sunday evenings. Pakistani broadcaster Abid Ali Baig will host the Urdu programme Hong Kong Ki Shaam, meaning Hong Kong, at 7.30pm on Sundays.

'It is mainly targeting South Asian listeners,' Mr Baig said of his show. 'Urdu is widely understood among Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis.'

His programme will feature short plays, literature, and a mix of views and interviews with prominent South Asians in Hong Kong and visitors to the city.

'Interviews will include members of the police force who have reached the higher ranks and Farooq Saeed, who was captain of the national hockey team and the only non- Chinese to be an Olympic torch-bearer in Hong Kong,' he said.

Mr Baig is a banker, but he is also a writer and poet. He has 30 years of broadcasting experience and came to the city 15 years ago.

Mr Thapa, 35, is an English teacher at a secondary school in Tin Shui Wai and is also a correspondent for publications in Nepal. His two sons, six and 11, live in Kathmandu.

'We give news reports of Hong Kong and also Nepal,' he said of his show. 'We also provide some Nepali music in the programme. I have been involved in radio work for six months.'

Hugh Chiverton, head of Radio 3, said: 'With the Urdu-speaking Pakistanis and Nepalis there are some who don't speak English well and there was no broadcasting for them, so this is a way of filling that gap.'