• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 7:39am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 4:44am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 5:54am

Why Jenny Ng and Li Wei-ling make unconvincing heroes of press freedom

One-time consultant for the government Jenny Ng Pui-ying, who denounced her client's decision in the TV licensing row last year, returned for more limelight when she joined the press freedom march on Sunday.

As a managing partner at Value Partners, Ng "voluntarily" left the company after she went before the cameras to accuse the government of misquoting a company report to justify its decision to block a TV licence for businessman Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television Network. Somehow she became a victim and a hero in pan-democratic circles. In reality, she was neither.

If she was a victim, it was only of her own unprofessionalism and poor judgment. She breached the cardinal rule of client confidentiality, yet did not further the public interest: we already knew the government decision was questionable, so who cares what Value Partners thought? But geez, where does it say a client must follow a consultant's recommendations?

At over 400 pages, presumably the Value Partners report offered different, even opposing options and possibilities. What was there to stop a client taking only those bits it liked? People seem to lose all common sense and perspective when it comes to the Leung Chun-ying administration. Witness the case of sacked Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling who turned what looked like a fallout with her own bosses into a government suppression of free speech.

As a citizen, you should be free to criticise your government. HKTV, of course, deserved a licence. Why was it the government's business to discourage competition in a market if an entrepreneur such as Wong was committed financially to the venture?

And while we were not told how much the government paid Value Partners, it routinely spends tens of millions each year on outside consultants. Aren't our highly paid officials up to the job?

But it's absurd for a hired gun to complain her client didn't follow her report and misquoted it. Like Li, Ng may have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. But consultants are consultants, a dime a dozen in this town.

Press freedom is a noble cause; you just wish it were represented by people more professionally capable than Ng and Li.


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Dai Muff
Crying wolf? Ask Kevin Lau.
"... a dime a dozen in this town". Same for journalists - I agree!
Dai Muff
Leung Chun-ying did not pay for that report. The Hong Kong taxpayer did. That is who Jenny Ng was answerable to. She did her job in reporting to her clients, and the misuse of the report impinges on the reputation of the consultancy. And while I am no great fan of Li Wei-ling, Mr Lo not so subtly tries to remove the reason for her "falling out" with her bosses in the first place, which was the placing of her into a less popular time slot. Sidelining and then firing a popular presenter is shooting yourself in the foot, and a sane person asks why a commercial organisation would do that. As Mr Lo works in the media he knows that this is similar to his editor placing him in the least visible spot of the paper to marginalise his own voice. But never fear. Being labelled a hero of press freedom by anyone other than the Global Times is not an issue I think will ever concern this commentator.
Agree entirely that Jenny Ng was way out of line. However, as for 'being a penny a dozen' - that is precisely the problem. They cost a million dollars each and like headhunters, begin to think they are really Gods on earth and assume Papal infallibility. Even in social contact they don't talk or give you a view - they make pronouncements and assume everyone is all ears and they are stating a fact.
As for Li, she sounds intolerable unless you like that kind of presenter.She is a rabble rouser who got into the studio in her untried and moderate early years but became more aggressive and indiscriminate in her comments until she began to believe her taunts and sarcasm are wit and wisdom. Glad her employers decided enough is enough and she can return to her street fights where she belongs. This kind of trouble-maker who cannot make head from tail will be lucky to find another media employer now they know she knows no limits to her indiscretion and indiscipline.
Interesting dig at headhunters. Had a bad experience, did you? That's funny!
The earlier those self righteous fools are put in their rightful places
the better for HK’s socio-intellectual development
Agree with previous comments. Mr Alex Lo seems presenting a picture imagined by him. Did Ms Ng ever leak any information of the report, she just explained to the public of the part of the report which was already unveiled by the government (the client) with "distortion". The government is only an agent to act on behalf the public, the public should be the real client. How can you say this is unprofessionalism? If she didn't come out, she would really be deemed unprofessional, how could a professional consultant give such a bias report! I would say Mr Lo unconvincing rather than the people mentioned. If they never came out, we would never know we have to uphold our freedom of speech. Mr Lo should know better than anyone unless he only wants to write about the merits of the government.
Did Ms. Ng complain about the government not accepting her suggestion or about the government misquoting her organization's report? And what explanation does Mr. Lo give for saying that Ms. Li is not a hero of press freedom? If the headline makes that assertion, Mr. Lo should explain, rather than make some vague arguments with no evidence. This kind a analysis is what we see in the People's Daily, the Global Times or the People's Daily. But we expect professionalism from the South China Morning Post. Certainly, Mr. Lo is not professionally capable of defending press freedoms. Based on the general trend of his columns, he's more apt to defend Communist abuses. His style of writing would thus fit in quite well across the border. But both the Hong Kong and Chinese people deserve better from their journalists.
Some people really love the limelight, it seems.
There is a world of difference between rejecting a consultant's advice and deliberately misquoting or misrepresenting that advice. The former course of action is fine and the latter course is not. Which was it? Both Mr. Lo and Mr. Robert Chua writing in the SCMP last week seem intent upon blurring that crucial distinction.


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