Boss said he'd sack me if I didn't move: Commercial Radio host Lee Wai-ling
Tanna Chong and Ng Kang-chung
Commercial Radio programme host Lee Wai-ling says her boss threatened to fire her if she did not accept a move from her morning current-affairs show to a less prominent evening slot.
The outspoken government critic said the ultimatum came during an exchange of text messages between her and chief executive Stephen Chan Chi-wan - who replaced her as host of On A Clear Day - after she was told of the new arrangement on Friday.
"At one point, he said that if I did not go to the press conference that day [announcing the change], he would have no choice but to fire me," Lee said, giving more of her side of the story yesterday on the evening show The Tipping Point that she now co-hosts with Elizabeth Wong Kit-wai.
She said she had been thinking of quitting before Friday because of "something that happened in the company".
But she accepted the arrangement because "I think it is my responsibility to stay and continue to work here".
Lee is known for being a harsh critic of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, and there had been rumours that removing her from the morning prime-time show was part of a deal for Commercial Radio to have its licence renewed in 2016. The station has denied the allegation.
Lee yesterday insisted that the arrangement was unusual, but her co-host Wong said on the programme that she treated it as a "usual programme change".
A spokesman for Commercial Radio said Chan would not comment yesterday.
Earlier in the day, Lee also likened the abrupt programme change to secretive "black box" government operations.
She said she was not consulted on the move.
"The arrangement was unusual as I was informed only on Friday, without any prior discussion," she said. "I asked Chan if I could say 'no', and he said 'no'.
"I thought black box operations were exclusively for Leung Chun-ying's Executive Council. I do not want it to spread through Hong Kong, like flu."
Despite Lee's apparent anger with the decision, Chan said the presenter was not unhappy.
"I do not feel her discontent … I have been working with her for a year and a half, and we talk about everything," the radio chief said.
In his On A Clear Day debut, Chan pledged: "I will speak for the people, question the government for the people and stand up to the privileged."
The change was announced at a press conference hosted by Chan on Friday.
Critics believed politics had been involved and said that the change was in effect demoting Lee to a less prominent slot in the evening radio show.
Commercial Radio must apply to extend its licence by August 25 next year, before its current licence expires in 2016.