Getting a radio licence in HK should be straightforward

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 February, 2009, 12:00am

First of all our government restricts a basic right to freely express opinions through broadcasting, then it restricts a constitutional right by not allowing a radio station to open. It does this in what is supposed to be an international city.

Even if you abide by law and apply for a licence, as Citizens' Radio has done, the government creates obstacles through deliberate delays and takes a number of years to grant or reject a licence. The licence fees are huge for broadcasters and this is unfair given that when you try and listen to a station on medium wave there is a lot of static which can be intolerable. There is no excuse for Hong Kong to have such poor radio reception. People living in some parts of the outlying islands cannot even get a reception.

People who defy the unjust law relating to broadcasting end up in court. It was disheartening to read the report ('Citizens' Radio activists lose latest round of court battle', January 24).

This is not just a defeat for a radio broadcaster, but for all the citizens of Hong Kong. This is an insult to our intelligence and runs against the so-called autonomy which the chief executive boasts we enjoy in Hong Kong. He says he cares about public opinion, but with the case of Citizens' Radio public opinion has been suppressed. I am not surprised that Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's popularity has declined, as he clearly does not practise what he is preaching and goes back on pledges that he made.

What kind of judicial system or rule of law do we have if the chief executive has the power to decide who should and who should not be granted a simple thing like a radio licence? Even in many underdeveloped countries it is a relatively simple process to grant a licence. It is unjust that Citizens' Radio has been denied its licence.

In Hong Kong, citizens are denied legal aid for public interest litigation. In other democratic countries legal aid is available for such action.

The chief executive should refrain from having any involvement in the granting of radio licences. Also, we need to work to improve radio reception in Hong Kong. For example, in Japan you can get crystal-clear digital radio frequencies.

A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui