RTHK boss faces criticism for not fighting harder over plan to build new headquarters

Broadcasting chief under fire over opposition by Beijing-loyalist politicians

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 February, 2014, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 9:00am

The head of RTHK came under fire yesterday for not standing up for the public broadcaster's plan for a new headquarters against opposition by Beijing-loyalist politicians.

The criticism of Roy Tang Yun-kwong came as he expressed disappointment at the government's decision to withdraw the HK$5.3 billion funding request after it became clear that the Beijing loyalists in the Legislative Council, whose votes were needed, would oppose it.

Tang, the station's director of broadcasting, also brushed off suggestions the administration was trying to "deplete" RTHK - often accused of being too critical of the government - by delaying its, expansion for which the new building was needed.

"I do not believe the government wants the project to fall away," he said.

"The secretary [for commerce and economic development Gregory So Kam-leung] actually led a very forceful lobbying exercise, all of which I personally attended."

The RTHK Programme Staff Union will meet station management today to demand an explanation from Tang, a veteran civil servant who was appointed to head RTHK in 2011.

Union spokeswoman Bao Choy Yuk-ling said Tang had not done all he could to stand up for the headquarters plan.

She said it demonstrated the problems with an administrative officer rather than a broadcasting professional managing the public broadcaster.

"If he were not an administrative officer, would he have had more courage to express opinions?" she asked.

The funding request was brought back in a slimmed-down form after an earlier HK$6 billion proposal was rejected by lawmakers unhappy that it widely exceeded a 2009 estimate of HK$1.6 billion.

Speaking after RTHK's Lunar New Year reception yesterday, Tang said it was completely speculative to say that the government was "happy" to withdraw the plan.

He said the government had supported the public broadcaster by increasing its resources 25 per cent in the past three years.

The decision by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to re-tender the project will lead to a delay of at least two years.