RTHK advisers distance themselves from Qoser probe - RTHK
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RTHK advisers distance themselves from Qoser probe

2020-09-28 HKT 13:49
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  • RTHK advisers distance themselves from Qoser probe
The new chairman of RTHK's board of advisers has refused to be drawn into the controversy regarding the public broadcaster’s decision to extend the probationary period for journalist Nabela Qoser, saying he’s not familiar with the civil service mechanism.

Speaking to reporters after attending his first board meeting on Monday, Lam Tai-fai said RTHK’s personnel arrangements are not within the scope of the board of advisers.

“I am not in a good position to comment (on) the employment situation. To be very honest, I have very little knowledge about the employment system or the procedure. Whether it’s fair or not fair, it’s not my job and also I cannot make a comment with my limited knowledge in this area. But obviously, they can handle (it) better through communication, they can sit down and talk,” he said.

Lam, who became chairman of the board of advisers in September, also said he doesn’t know Qoser enough to be able to comment on her job performance, saying such assessment should be left to her superiors.

Lam added that during the meeting with RTHK management, the board reiterated the importance for the station to abide by the RTHK Charter, saying if “RTHK does well, the board of advisers will be well, and Hong Kong will also do well”.

The RTHK Programme Staff Union staged a protest outside the Broadcasting House meeting room, holding signs that read "unjustified suppression" and "explain as soon as possible".

The union described the broadcaster’s decisions to reopen the investigation into complaints against Qoser and extend her probationary period by 120 days as "political persecution", saying they will meet with Director of Broadcasting Leung Ka-wing on Monday afternoon to discuss the matter.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting also weighed in, calling on the station's management to safeguard editorial autonomy and protect its frontline reporters from political pressure.

He said Qoser shouldn't be investigated, and re-investigated, for doing her job, and questioned if the government had been putting pressure on the broadcaster.

“I strongly urge the senior management of RTHK to uphold the freedom of expression, freedom of the press and editorial autonomy, and to try to defend their professional reporters and journalists and let them to perform their duties professionally and independently,” Lam said.

Qoser is best known for her aggressive questioning of officials, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in government press conferences during the protests in the past year. She has been a target of pro-government figures who accused her of being biased.

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, whose bureau oversees RTHK, brushed aside suggestions that the government played a role in the controversy, saying it is a "staff matter" that's completely left in the hands of RTHK.

"I think what you're talking about is a staff matter within a government department, which under the existing arrangement is a matter for the department to handle because as all government departments, they have their own policies to establish performance, promotion and other staffing matters. This is entirely a matter for the department, so it is inappropriate for me to comment on this," Yau said.