Hong Kong music host issues classical challenge to chief executive contenders

Retiring RTHK personality Jonathan Douglas says he would love to interview the three candidates on their classical music tastes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 10:51pm

The city’s top classical music radio host has called on all three chief executive candidates to phone in to “reveal their human face” through a chat on the arts.

Jonathan Douglas, the host of Morning Call on RTHK’s Radio 4, made the appeal to all candidates to join his show, which features live interviews in English with artists and reviewers from 7 to 10 on weekday mornings.

“Wouldn’t that be marvellous if the three candidates come on air and talk about the arts?” the British host said, referring to chief executive contenders John Tsang Chun-wah, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Woo Kwok-hing, who face the election on March 26.

A conversation on issues such as the importance of music in their lives “would be revealing a bit of their human face” and “they would be showing they have a certain amount of heart [in the arts].”

Chief executives, past and present, have often appeared in events such as the ongoing Hong Kong Arts Festival as leading arts patrons.

“They recognise the importance of making Hong Kong an important arts centre but I think they should follow it up with more action, and that action should be genuine,” he said.

He suggested “they should start falling in love with classical music, going to concerts and reading up on the pieces they are going to listen to.”

The veteran, who will retire next month after over 30 years at the station, recalled Chris Patten, the last governor under British colonial rule, did all that, plus coming with his wife Lavender to a radio programme titled It Takes Two in 1995.

“He enjoyed listening to Radio 4 and attended classical music concerts and even hosted chamber music performances at the governor’s house of which I went to a few,” he said.

Though harbouring doubts, Douglas, who will go off air on April 10 before turning 60 the following day, urged the three contenders to join his programme “in the remaining time that we have”.

“I’m not yet convinced that Hong Kong leaders since Patten have that burning desire or interest in classical music or see it as a priority,” he said.

But the veteran presenter remained hopeful that the chief executive hopefuls would join in his swan song.

“Give me a call and I’d put you in my programme,” he said.