• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 12:25am
CommentInsight & Opinion

For Hong Kong's sake, all sides must clarify why radio host Li Wei-ling was fired

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 February, 2014, 4:05am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 February, 2014, 4:05am

Freedom of expression and of the press are the cornerstones upon which Hong Kong's success has been built and maintained. However, the foundations are not as solid as they seem. The fact that confidence is shaken whenever these freedoms are called into question underlines the need for vigilance.

The concerns raised from the sacking of outspoken radio talk-show host Li Wei-ling are understandable. She had worked for Commercial Radio for nine years and is known for her critical stance towards the government. Given the current political atmosphere, it is to be expected that her dismissal is seen by some as politically motivated.

The veteran journalist noted that there were suggestions that the sacking might be due to discord with the management or commercial reasons. But she was convinced that it stemmed from suppression by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. She said someone close to Leung had warned her to "mind her job" though she stopped short of identifying that person. Referring to some private conversation with her former boss, Stephen Chan Chi-wan, and work changes over the past year, she said the broadcaster had bowed to political pressure in the run-up to negotiations over its licence renewal and sacked her. But Leung swiftly denied he had ever mentioned to anyone any matters related to Li's position or work. Chan also rebuked Li's allegations in his radio programme. But that does not clear the air. Some lawmakers demand a Legco inquiry into the saga.

This is not the first time the broadcaster has been embroiled in such controversy. A top executive of the broadcaster yesterday dismissed Li's accusation as unfounded, adding that it had caused grave damage to Hong Kong. But she would only say the basis of trust and co-operation with Li had been destroyed, without elaborating further the reason for Li's dismissal. The response falls short of expectations of a broadcaster licensed to use public airwaves.

The allegations levelled against the chief executive are serious. But the evidence produced so far has yet to prove that Leung was behind the sacking. More concrete evidence is needed to substantiate the claim. Leung's pledge to uphold press freedom is to be welcomed. However, confidence in freedom of the press and freedom of expression is so fragile that it takes more than mere words to ease public worries. The government, the media and society have the duty to ensure our freedoms are not eroded.


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This article is now closed to comments

Well written, if sheepish-- which is understandable given the current status of the SCMP and the decline of English-language journalism in Hong Kong. What became of Star News? Metro News Radio? What's become of The Hong Kong Standard? Who remembers Larry Feign's "the World of Lily Wong"?
An outspoken media personality, critical of both the local and central governments, is suddenly fired in post-handover Hong Kong without explanation. Is anyone really surprised?
Like her or not, she has been a popular talk show host up until her summary dismissal. An asset to Commercial Radio until she became a liability having stepped on too many toes--with the station's license up for renewal. If the dismissal was due to professional misconduct i.e., she went too far in her provocative approach, that must be explained to her and the public. Her colleagues need to know the standards, and adhere to those standards. We have the impression that she has been used as a tool by her company which profits from her confrontational broadcasting style, and now ditched because she became inconvenient.
Dai Muff
I don't like listening to her much. I sometimes find her arguments a little dumb. But I like to have a voice like hers around. And she is popular with many people, so it is puzzling why a commercial organisation would fire a host who brings them listeners. After all, there are plenty of equally dumb radio presenters sitting on the fence who still have their jobs.
Dai Muff
You can always find half a dozen reasons to fire someone because no one is perfect. This applies whether they are pro-government or anti-government.
But. the aberration of Robert Chow notwithstanding, it IS more than a coincidence that while other reasons may be suggested for firing Wong Yuk-man, Albert Cheng, Ng Chi-sum, a couple of newspaper commenters, the exiling of former DB Cheung Man-yee to Japan, AND Li Wei-ling they all have ONE THING in common.
In this day and age of ubiquitous smart phones, I'm still surprised that more of these allegations of supposedly indicting conversations aren't supported by audio evidence. Especially when it comes to journalists, for whom an audio recorder would presumably be an evolutionary extension of their arm.
Li Wei-ling is no journalist, and even if she were, recording private conversations with one's boss displays paranoia and/or intent, and would be grounds for termination.
Some of us don't like her either, and we are not at all politically motivated. That may just be her excuse, since it seems better to appear as the victim of a conspiracy.


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