Former RTHK boss supports staff

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 September, 2011, 12:00am


A former director of broadcasting has lent his support to staff who question the suitability of public broadcaster RTHK's new boss.

Chu Pui-hing, who stepped down as director of broadcasting in July 2007, said the new RTHK chief should have substantial experience of the broadcast industry.

Chu's remarks were in response to the outcry about the appointment of Roy Tang Yun-kwong as director of broadcasting.

Tang, a former deputy secretary for labour and welfare, has no public broadcasting experience.

Since the director of broadcasting is the editor-in-chief of RTHK, 'it is therefore essential that he or she should have ample experience in editorial work and knowledge of public broadcasting', Chu told the South China Morning Post.

'The concerns of my former colleagues in RTHK are reasonable and I support their position.'

Chu sought early retirement over a scandal in which he was photographed hiding behind a karaoke hostess. He later apologised for his behaviour, but denied his official duties had been compromised.

Tang, who joined the government in 1987, is the first administrative officer to run RTHK since its separation from the colonial government's Information Services Department in the mid-1950s.

The government chose Tang as the new head of RTHK after failing to identify a suitable candidate after a nine-month recruitment exercise.

The appointment prompted a wave of criticism from the RTHK staff union, academics and pan-democratic lawmakers. They said the move would undermine the broadcaster's independence and deal a severe blow to staff morale. Staff union members organised a black-carpet protest for Tang when he arrived for his first day of work on Thursday. They called on the government to cancel the appointment.

The decision to appoint an administrative officer to head RTHK was not an ideal arrangement, said Lau Chi-kuen, a member of the RTHK Board of Advisors, who was speaking at a forum on press ethics and freedom at Baptist University yesterday.

Lau, principal lecturer at the university's journalism department, said RTHK had not properly handled the succession in accordance with an internal promotion plan following Chu's retirement four years ago.

However, former TVB news controller Raymond Roy Wong said he did not see any problem with Tang's appointment.

'The government is empowered to appoint anybody to head RTHK, which is a government department,' he said. RTHK staff should not take any industrial actions to protest because they should prioritise Hongkongers' access to the media, Wong said.

Janet Mak Lai-ching, chairwoman of the RTHK Programme Staff Union, said on Thursday that members would discuss their next move and she would not rule out industrial action.