Extra staff man the phones as 1,124 people protest the talk-show host's reprimand The Broadcasting Authority was yesterday swamped with more complaints over its reprimand to popular radio host Albert Cheng King-hon, bringing the total to a record high of 1,124. The figure, which has tripled since Wednesday, far outnumbers the 157 public complaints which were said to have triggered the authority's warnings to Cheng, host of Commercial Radio programme Teacup in a Storm, last Saturday. But the authority said last night it would not be reviewing its decision. It admitted that the number of staff answering phone calls had had to be increased from two to five, and its e-mail inbox expanded to receive the complaints. Most of the complainants expressed support for Cheng, and some expressed fears for the freedom of expression in Hong Kong. 'We know that the public has filed complaints against our warnings but ... we will not review the verdict. We respect freedom of speech,' the authority said. Legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip said he launched a petition to support Cheng on Thursday and 1,200 people had signed in two hours. Cheng yesterday said he was both 'relieved and surprised' by the level of public support, but was still seriously considering quitting the show. He said he would shortly travel to the US to contemplate his future. The length of his break from presenting has yet to be decided. 'This time I am serious,' Cheng said. 'With Article 23 legislation and the fact that the Broadcasting Authority functions in a black hole, freedom of expression in Hong Kong has been diminishing. I really do not know what I can say and what I can't in the future.' The authority had issued the warnings last Saturday, saying that two officials had been deprived of a right of reply on shows broadcast on April 24 and 25. Cheng had described Deputy Director of Housing Lau Kai-hung as a 'dog-like' official for turning a blind eye to the 'exploitation' of manual workers on April 24. A day later, he criticised the then-acting chief executive of the Hospital Authority, Ko Wing-man, for failing to address medical workers' needs. Among yesterday's complainants was April 5th Action Group veteran activist 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, who marched to the authority's Wan Chai offices with 10 other members and a large paper knife which he said was a symbol of the authority's endangerment of freedom of speech. Group members also handed over a picture of authority chairman Daniel Fung Wah-kin, and repeated Cheng's criticisms of him.