• Fri
  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 11:44am
NewsHong Kong

RTHK employee threatens to lift lid on political interference

Employee says he will lift the lid on political interference at the government broadcaster as long as he is immune from legal liability

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 6:44am

The RTHK staffer at the heart of the row with the government's broadcasting director yesterday threatened to blow the political interference scandal wide open with more allegations - but only if legislators set up a special select committee to hear evidence.

Forever Sze Wing-yuen, the acting assistant director of TV and corporate business, said "unprecedented political missions" existed.

He refused to elaborate and said he would only go into details in a Legislative Council select committee that gives him immunity from legal liability.

Moments earlier, Roy Tang Yun-kwong, the government broadcasting director whose open criticism of editorial processes has sparked fury at RTHK, made a public apology after what he described as an "excellent" meeting with staff.

Tang - who took the job 18 months ago - refused to step down and said he was carrying out his duty "as appointed to do so by the Civil Service Bureau".

"I am sure I have been serving dutifully," Tang said in a seemingly confident mood after the two-hour, closed-door meeting.

He apologised for "discomforting staff, who regarded me as querying their attitude to work or professional judgment". But he skirted at least three media questions on whether he would issue a wider apology to RTHK.

Tang admitted he had "gone into too much detail" on Monday when he spoke to the media about an editorial proposal to use Nazi characters in its hit satirical show Headliner and about "contradictory" reasons given by City Forum producers for representing absent government officials with empty seats during a TV debate about the now-shelved national curriculum plans.

But Tang denied staff claims he was driving a political agenda.

Addressing reporters after Tang, with whom he was said to have clashed, Sze said he felt political pressure.

Asked when he felt it, Sze replied: "Both my colleagues and I feel it on different occasions, in different forms, under different circumstances."

Amid speculation he would be downgraded from the acting position he holds, Sze said: "My personal promotion is a triviality worthless of discussion when compared with Hongkongers' core values."

No one ever required me as director of broadcasting to ... get involved in any political missions

Sze also rejected a suggestion from Tang that staff who feel under political pressure should complain to the Civil Service Bureau. "I don't think the Civil Service Bureau is in a position to handle such big issues as freedom of the press," Sze said.

Tang, however, insisted: "No one ever required me as director of broadcasting to ... get involved in any political missions."

The RTHK Programme Staff Union said Tang "kept playing with words" during the staff meeting. The union said in a statement: "This editor-in-chief [Tang] has always exercised his duty with the mentality of an administrative officer.

"He has neither the professional judgment nor the ethics and commitment of a journalist."

Pan-democratic lawmakers Claudia Mo Man-ching, Lee Cheuk-yan and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung showed up at RTHK to support staff. Mo said she had issued a letter to the broadcasting panel of Legco to demand a hearing.

The Journalists Association condemned Tang's "violent intervention" into editorial work, and requested a Legco inquiry.

Last night's Headliner did not let the matter go. "It's hard to 'yun'," said host Ng Chi-sum, referring to Tang's first name, which means "tolerate".


More on this story

14 Mar 2013 - 12:00am

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

the sun also rises
Please spare some time to read Mr.Wong Ngon-yin ( a current affairs commentator in town)'s article in today' Shun Pao (Hong Kong Economic Journal) which states that once the SAR administration determines to transfer the much-disgusted director of broadcasting,Roy Tang Yun-kwong (who is high in E.Q. and eloquent enough plus smart too),then the row at the station may come to an end.Does it mean that our much-valued freedom of speech may prevail in the territory through this so-called public broadcaster ? Of course not ! The ony way out for the RTHK staff to really work in a geniune public broadcaster is letting themselves leave the civil servant rank and let RTHK become independent while funded by tax-payers.Will the current civil servants there willing to sacrifice their personal fixed interests to fight for the status of a geniune public broadcaster which act will definitely receive huge support of most Hongkongers who embrace freedom of expression and media !
the sun also rises
Just lift the lid of political intervention/pressure, dear Mr.Forever Sze. Most Hongkjongers who embrace freedoms of speech/expression and press will firmly support you.Don't be afraid of being charged with defamation by this former A.O.,Tang Yun-kwong whose fame is notorious enough in the territory.If he dares lay charge against you, many righteous barristers will lend you a hand in the lawsuit,it can be sure.You just don't have to wait for a Legco inquiry so that you will be immune from any liablility.Right ? Just disclose all that you know to the public and let us know how heavy your pressure has been in recent months or even longer.Okay ?
the sun also rises
When asked several times if it was because he wouldn't be promoted to the post of assistant director of broadcasting so he disclosed the political pressure placed upon him by Roy Tang Yun-kwong , Mr;Forever Sze Wing-yuen emphasized that he will retire in two years after a 32-year-long service at the public broadcaster.His personal prospects (the promotion) is really nothing compared with editorial independecne of the Station and two of the core values of Hong Kong---freedoms of expression and press. Absolutely right ! From what had already been disclosed,this director knows nothing about editorial independence and is not going to value it since he has never considered himself a part of RTHK which he seldom tuned in to listen to its radio programmes nor watched the current affairs programmes produced by his experienced staff ! A transferral of this 47-year-old guy maybe the best option for the battered Leung administration sicne Mr.Sze has become a time bomb towards the SAR administration and further bigger scandals may come out soon !
Dai Muff
That is not the question. Before you can prove one factor, you must discount others. And the key in your sentence is "from what has been disclosed". Do you not realise that what has been disclosed is very selective? If there are political missions, tell us. You don't need special protections. Just stop whining about "mental anguish" and give us a fact. Otherwise you look like the boy who cried wolf.
And he knows Hitler is not funny to millions of people. That's a good start.
Like I said, he could be a bad guy. But I haven't seen any evidence yet.
the sun also rises
This arrogant but ignorant old guy might really have gone into details of daily /routine operations of his colleagues who are much more experienced than him in the quasi-professional field of public broadcasting.Sze claimed that he had done his job dutifully after he was sent to the Station 18 months ago.Yet I wonder what he implied might be he had carried out his hidden missions faithfully only----making every effort to get rid of those trouble-makers who have been unfavourable in the eyes of local pro-government and pro-Beijing elements.Right ? A select committee set up by our respectable Legco to look into the case has become a must so as to safeguard our much-valued core values----freedoms of expression and press not to be sacrificed at the cost of someone' personal interests. Right ?
Dai Muff
Why does no one want to even consider the possibility that perhaps Mr Sze is not the person most suited for the post, or that at least his supervisor honestly thinks so? That perhaps there is someone within RTHK just as devoted to editorial independence but more efficient? From what I have seen, there are many there devoted to editorial independence. In the Civil Service an Acting post is, after all, a trial run, not a guarantee. This has been the big unexamined issue here. Should it be discussed in public? Why jump to political motivations when you know nothing else?
RTHK should be editorially independent, and if Tang had attempted specific promotion of anti-democratic agendas we should be told. But I am not the only person sick of general accusations of "vague feelings" or "mental anguish". Give us specific examples or stop whining.
And if the "professional judgement" of RTHK staff is that Hitler is funny, nothing to do with Nazis, and would not offend and hurt thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, Roy Tang has more professional judgement than them and they should be taken on a trip to Auschwitz to see why.


SCMP.com Account