• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 5:02am
NewsHong Kong

Liaison Office 'sounded out' Legco members on TV licence probe vote

Lawmakers admit they were approached before TV licence vote by Beijing officials – with some expressing concern for government's credibility

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 3:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 November, 2013, 2:57am

A pro-government lawmaker who voted for a Legislative Council investigation bid into the free-to-air television licence saga admitted he had been approached by the central government's liaison office.

Dr Leung Ka-lau, of the medical sector, said the mainland officials had no view either way about whether Hong Kong Television Network should be awarded a free-to-air licence.

But they were concerned that a policy U-turn would harm the government.

"I was approached for discussion by some frontline officials at the liaison office … I feel they had no specific views over the number of licences awarded," said Leung. "But they were concerned that a turnabout on the licence decision would jeopardise the government's authority and credibility."

A bid by pan-democrats to invoke Legco's special powers to probe the decision process, and the failure to award a licence to Hong Kong Television Network, was rejected yesterday by functional constituency lawmakers, who are mostly Beijing-loyalists.

The failure to summon the four consultancy reports on the licensing process - believed to have been instrumental in the government's deliberations - triggered disappointment among the 400 protesters watching live streaming of the meeting in Civic Square, Tamar. HKTV said it was "disappointed" and would announce its next step soon.

Video: Thousands of HKTV supporters gather at government HQ for more protests

While pan-democrats said they would invoke the special powers again to summon HKTV chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay's copies of the consultancy reports, today's Legco IT panel special meeting will see the first confrontation between Wong and Greg So Kam-leung, the secretary for commerce and economic development.

Leung's revelation echoed the view of Wong, who believes there was "not interference from Beijing but interference within Hong Kong", implicitly referring to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

While the medical lawmaker said he felt no pressure from liaison officials over his vote, a last-minute U-turn by Paul Tse Wai-chun raised speculation of intervention by the liaison office.

The geographical lawmaker, who had initially pledged to support the special powers motion, admitted he was approached by mainland officials.

"I changed my stance after considering opinions from all sides … including that of Beijing's offices in Hong Kong," said Tse. But his vote did not affect the outcome as pan-democrats secured a majority among lawmakers from geographical constituencies.

Beijing-loyalist Ng Leung-sing of the finance constituency said it was normal for the liaison office to maintain such contact.

"As politicians concerned about Hong Kong's development and success, the [liaison office] as Beijing's representative should, and in reality does, maintain reasonable communications. This is totally beneficial and in no way harmful," said Ng. He said liaison officers aimed at deeper understanding, "not intervening or giving us instructions".

So said he knew nothing about the liaison office's encounters with lawmakers.

Henry Yeung Chi-ho, of HKTV staff union, said it was not the end of the fight, and the union backed a Legco motion to invoke special powers to allow HKTV to make confidential documents public.

"We will continue our fight for justice in every possible way," he said. "If we could not fight for the disclosure of these, we would never be able to sleep well."


Related topics

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

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



This article is now closed to comments

The two glaring groundless points by the government - 1) there is no merit to state the two licenses issued to the subsidiaries of Cable TV and Now TV reflect financial soundness as the two subsidiary entities are limited companies with limited financial capabilities based on their capitalisation. Their parent and/or holding company is merely a shareholder and unless there is a formal corporate undertaking to provide unlimited financial support to their subsidiaries, these two subsidiary entities should be assessed on their own capitalisation; 2) the concern about inadequate revenue for the industry to have more than 4 licensed operators is a direct interference in a free economy where survival of any business should be left to the operators of such businesses. It is further rather speculative to judge the revenue that can be generated in the future as with a fast changing media industry spurred by the internet advancements, who can seriously predict the marketing trend vis a vis its corelation with advertising revenue that can be developed. Who is C.Y. Leung taking the advice from in making the decision - is his advisors and EXCO members really competent and knowledgeable in the industry?
The fact that the central government liaison office contacted a Legco member over this issue strongly hints at the extent to which it interferes in day to day decisions.
"A separate protest area was reserved for government supporters at the opposite side of the Legco block, but it appeared empty at 11.30am." This is a clear indication how far out of touch members of the administration and lawmakers are from the mood of the general public.
Who is governing Hong Kong?
What a pity that from the beginning of the SAR we have not had a strong Chief Executive courageous enough to say to the liaison office, Beijing apparatchiks and the corrupt tycoons; "Look here, I'm in charge of running this city, I shall do it my way and properly, so butt out."
sudo rm -f cy
Protect Article 22(1)!
"No department of the Central People's Government and no province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in the affairs which the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region administers on its own in accordance with this Law."
sudo rm -f cy
Why would he stand up to them when he IS one of them?


SCMP.com Account