• Tue
  • Sep 2, 2014
  • Updated: 1:23pm
NewsHong Kong
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Funding request for new RTHK premises cut by 12pc to gain lawmakers' support

Government reduces funding request to win pro-Beijing lawmakers' support, but legislators who vetoed previous proposal remain unmoved

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 3:23am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 3:46am

The government has cut its funding request for the new RTHK headquarters by 12 per cent to about HK$5.3 billion, but the pro-establishment lawmakers still find the proposal unacceptable.

The revised plan came after the lawmakers - a majority of whom are from the pro-Beijing camp - rejected the government's approximate HK$6 billion request during the Legislative Council's public works subcommittee meeting on January 3.

In an attempt to lobby support from Legco's biggest Beijing-loyalist party, commerce chief Greg So Kam-leung and RTHK broadcasting deputy director Tai Keen-man met the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong yesterday to discuss the amended proposal.

Under the revised plan, the overall cost of building the new RTHK headquarters in Tseung Kwan O will decrease by HK$725 million - or 12 per cent - to about HK$5.3 billion from the original request for about HK$6 billion.

Some of the cuts came from reducing planned furniture and equipment costs by HK$300 million. RTHK now intends to retain the ageing broadcasting equipment it had meant to replace.

The amounts required for emergency use and consultation were also cut by HK$244 million and HK$36 million respectively.

But the construction cost of the headquarters' hardware would remain unchanged in the amended proposal.

The compromise, however, failed to move the pro-Beijing lawmakers who had vetoed the previous HK$6 billion funding request. They had done so because they were dissatisfied the amount was almost four times its 2009 estimate of HK$1.6 billion.

"They may have proposed cuts in the equipment cost, but we may still have to fund them in future if their equipment breaks down," DAB lawmaker Christopher Chung Shu-kun said.

"The construction cost is still too high to be accepted.

"There are already quite a few 24-hour news channels. Why don't [RTHK] just replay the programme by CCTV [or other stations]?"

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Chan Yuen-han also rejected the revised plan.

"It means nothing as only the cost on software but not hardware has been trimmed down," she said, adding that the scale of the new headquarters should be fundamentally shrunk.

But Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok asked if the Beijing loyalists had a hidden agenda in opposing the funding.

"Why do they still refuse to accept the plan even though the cost has been reduced by HK$725 million? Is it because they see RTHK as being too critical towards the government?"

So called on lawmakers to approve the revised request as another delay would risk having to go through a new tender process, which would serve only to further drive up costs.

 

Share

For unlimited access to:

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

 

5

This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
It is ABSOLUTELY a political issue for the DAB. The fact is that EXCO already, several years ago, assigned RTHK several new tasks and DAB agreed with those. Those are the very same tasks that DAB is now saying it does not want the station to take up.
And Honger's view is just plain ill informed. RTHK is currently working from THREE buildings on Broadcast Drive, from another in Kowloon Tong , and another in Admiralty.
The fact is that by selling the land on which just two RTHK buildings now sit (worth at least HK$10 billion) the government would make more money than would have to be spent on the new construction. It would return a PROFIT. You are wasting public money by leaving it where it is. That is HK$4 billion to spend on those poor and elderly that "John Adams" pretends to care about so much. How often do public works projects ever bring a windfall to the coffers?
When people are opposing something that will bring a profit on the grounds of cost, it IS political and it is BS.
Of course pro-Beijing forces do not want a strong public broadcaster in Hong Kong. And for all the same reasons that the people do. And proposing that the public settle for CCTV "News" just goes to make their agenda very, very, clear indeed.
honger
"So called on lawmakers to approve the revised request as another delay would risk having to go through a new tender process, which would serve only to further drive up costs."
Sounds like So is trying to scare members, to convince them to commit to a faulty plan nevertheless.
I'd say scrap the white elephant altogether. Upgrade the existing Broadcast Drive building with top notch equipment and refurbishment if needed with the money saved. There are already several stations providing 24 hour news - both private and public (CCTV). People who really need to monitor the news 24 hours - bond and stock traders - rely on financial news wires like Bloomberg and Reuters, Mr So.
honger
"But Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok asked if the Beijing loyalists had a hidden agenda in opposing the funding."
Shame on you, Chan Ka lok! Don't you dare politicise this straighforward issue into a political one to add to your political mileage.
All sensible Legco members with a functioning brain should do what they know they should: i.e vote against this monstrous white elephant. The 12 percent cut - easily eroded with inflation - still makes this project way too expensive not counting recurrent costs for an expanded staff and equipment - and sets a precedent for Greg So and company to burn public funds for fancy projects while FC Tsang is counting the pennies. When the funds do run dry, So and company will be in a nice chateau somewhere while we will be stuck here in HK in dire straits.
In the private sector, it takes a lot of effort and time to generale $5.3 billion.
I suggest to CY to start scrutinising the accounts of such orgainsations like RTHK, the HK Producitivity Council, the HK Exam Authority, etc. They burn millions on an open chequebook as Audit Reports have shown.
Dai Muff
"But Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok asked if the Beijing loyalists had a hidden agenda in opposing the funding." Shame on you, Chan Ka lok! "
The only reason for shame is that it is not even hidden.
John Adams
I agree !
On the one hand John Tsang says we cannot afford to look after our poor and elderly, but on the other hand the government doles out money for white elephants like RTHK. HKTDC etc
 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or