RTHK veteran Forever Sze Wing-yuen: I'm under 'political pressure'

Employee says he sensed the broadcasting director was assigning him political missions - and his colleagues are also feeling the strain

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 8:49am

RTHK was plunged deeper into controversy yesterday as the employee at the centre of the storm broke his silence, saying he "had the feeling" he was being assigned political missions.

Reports had claimed the acting assistant director of TV and corporate business, Forever Sze Wing-yuen, would not be promoted to the job on a permanent basis because he had clashed with the station's broadcasting director, Roy Tang Yun-kwong.

Tang was also accused of interfering in the public broadcaster's editorial independence.

Yesterday, Sze was interviewed by rival Commercial Radio's phone-in show, On a Clear Day. He said he was facing "the biggest pressure ever" since he joined RTHK over 30 years ago. "My colleagues are telling me they are feeling the pressure, the political pressure … and diversity [in production] is weakening," he said. "This is a very serious matter for a public broadcaster."

My colleagues are telling me they are feeling the pressure, the political pressure … and diversity [in production] is weakening

But Sze would not go into detail when asked about the political missions he claimed he was assigned by Tang, who was parachuted in to head the broadcaster as an administrative officer in 2011. "I have never done anything that goes against my professional conduct," Sze said. "[Political missions] are more like a feeling. It is not so straightforward. But I can say I myself have such a feeling, and some of my colleagues have similar feelings."

Meanwhile, an RTHK source said yesterday that Tang had suggested moving the popular television parody show Headliner to be broadcast on ATV, which draws much lower ratings than TVB, which currently shows the programme on Saturday nights.

However, an RTHK spokeswoman denied Tang had any such plans, adding he had never asked any of the station's staff to carry out political missions.

"But the director of broadcasting understands that our staff might, for many reasons, feel political pressure. The management will continue to communicate with staff and establish mutual trust," she said. Tang will attend a staff meeting on Friday to discuss the allegations.

On Monday, Tang lashed out at two of the leading public affairs programmes, Headliner and City Forum, after attending a Legislative Council panel meeting. Reports said Tang and Sze had disagreed with the forum team's decision to put empty chairs on the panel to mock the absence of government officials in an episode about the controversial national education curriculum. He was also said to have been outraged at the idea of introducing Nazi characters into Headliner.

RTHK Programme Staff Union chairwoman Janet Mak Lai-ching said staff had talked about political pressure since Tang took the top job. "It's not like in the past, when we could base our decisions solely on journalistic judgments," she said.