RADIO Television Hong Kong (RTHK) is likely to name the new head of the English-language Radio 3 channel soon after Lunar New Year - nearly three years after the position became vacant. Director of Broadcasting Cheung Man-yee and other senior executives are said to be considering the promotion of current staff members, at least two of whom were previously turned down for the job. Despite being advertised twice, the $54,985-a-month post has failed to attract suitable candidates. It also carries a 25-per cent gratuity at the end of the 21/2-year contract, and housing and travel allowances if an expatriate is appointed. Miss Cheung is thought to have flown to London during the summer for discussions with the British Forces Broadcasting Service and the BBC World Service about seconding someone to run the station. But it is understood the Government is reluctant to make an external appointment, and pay an expatriate salary package, at a time when civil service posts are being localised. At least two BFBS figures, one based in London and the other working in Sek Kong, have turned down the post. Radio 3 staff are anxious for an appointment, saying that uncertainty and lack of leadership has hampered long-term planning since Nick Bailey resigned in April 1992 to return to Britain. Larry Ottaway was made head for more than one year before he was relieved of the post. Another Radio 3 presenter, Martin Clarke, was thought to be a contender for the position after Ottaway's removal, but insiders said he was repeatedly baulked in his attempts to see Miss Cheung to discuss the matter. 'You learn how to read the signs - if she won't see you the message is clear, you don't get the job,' the source said. 'Larry wanted to see her after he was removed as head, but she would not see him.' Yet since the failure of the recruiting process, RTHK is now re-examining the merits of several internal candidates including Clarke, Gerry Jose and Ian Pooler; Ottaway is to leave Hong Kong next year. Jagjit Dillon, the station's head of English-language broadcasting, said: 'I think between now and Lunar New Year we will review the performances of people in-house and take a hard look to see who is available from outside and decide if we should go for an internal solution. 'But I would not go so far as to say we had narrowed it down to internal candidates only.' An RTHK employee said: 'We have heard nothing officially, apart from the fact something will be announced after Lunar New Year - although we don't know which Lunar New Year they mean. 'It is very demoralising with no-one in charge. You cannot plan anything; it all happens by default and everyone does their own thing. Dillon is not a broadcaster; he is there to keep the administration ticking over. 'People are beginning to feel that the management really does not care.' However, Mr Dillon defended the 32-month search for a candidate. 'We attach quite a lot of importance to the head of Radio 3 so they will have to be of a very high standard - we expect quite a lot from them,' he said. He also denied it had affected morale, saying: 'The audience figures have not dropped; the numbers have gone up in the last year and we have introduced new programmes.' MARTIN CLARKE FORMER actor Martin Clarke has emerged as the public face of Radio 3 through presenting high-profile events such as the fund-raising Christmas quiz 'The Battle Of The Taipans', supervising Operation Santa Claus, and as the head of Radio 3's advisory panel. His outgoing personality could be an asset given RTHK's belief the Radio 3 head should be a public figure. Despite not having a background in journalism and his relative broadcasting inexperience, Clarke is regarded within the channel as the favourite should RTHK opt for an internal candidate. LARRY OTTAWAY A REAL dark horse, Larry Ottaway's major asset is that he has held the post on an acting basis. His handicap is that he is also looking to leave Hong Kong. Management is said to regard him as 'too shy' to be able to handle the public role the head of Radio 3 is expected to assume. GERRY JOSE A FORMER Radio 3 music director, Gerry Jose now presents the late-afternoon Drive Time show. Experienced, affable, a long-standing RTHK staffer and a fluent Cantonese speaker, Jose's bid could be hampered by an incident in 1991 that left management wincing with embarrassment. During a Lunar New Year reception at RTHK's Broadcast Drive premises attended by several hundred staff, government officials and other media figures, Jose handed out stickers demanding to know when RTHK was going to be corporatised. IAN POOLER AN RTHK veteran, Ian Pooler is a presenter/producer and, like the other internal candidates, a senior programme officer. However, he is rumoured to be thinking of returning to Britain. Although well-liked, he is said to have a 'nearly invisible' profile within RTHK.