Commerce secretary Edward Yau on Wednesday dismissed claims by pro-democracy lawmakers that the government is choking off much-needed resources and office space for public broadcaster RTHK, saying the department is getting everything it needs to operate.
During a Legco session on Wednesday, pan-democrats said the government’s decision to take back one of RTHK’s three buildings on Broadcast Drive later this year has exacerbated an acute shortage of space, forcing staff to work in cramped and dilapidated offices.
They also questioned why nothing has been done to find RTHK a new home seven years after pro-government lawmakers rejected a HK$5.3 billion plan to build a new headquarters in Tseung Kwan O.
But Yau said just because a building is old, doesn’t mean it is not fit for purpose – pointing out that the Hong Kong Observatory’s Tsim Sha Tsui headquarters was built in 1883.
“I don’t want the members get mixed up in thinking that by not having a new Broadcasting House, this would prevent RTHK from operating effectively”, Yau said.
He said a lot of money has been spent on refurbishing RTHK offices to meet the broadcaster’s operational needs.
However, Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki dismissed Yau’s comparison as ‘absurd’.
“We all know the Observatory [doesn’t have] one centre”, he said. “The antique building is just part of the whole structure, or part of the headquarters of the Observatory. They have many others facilities which can be used.”
He said the government has been working incessantly to undermine RTHK, with the aim of seeing it close down, or changing its fundamental mission as a public service broadcaster.
“The message is very clear: the government is just trying to undermine RTHK with the hope to give inadequate resources [and] inadequate manpower. I don’t know what will be the outcome… I’m quite worried about the future of RTHK”, Kwok said.
RTHK running fine without new HQ: Edward Yau
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