Listeners cry foul after RTHK poll scrapped - RTHK
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Listeners cry foul after RTHK poll scrapped

2021-01-04 HKT 12:39
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  • RTHK did not elaborate on what the 'irregularities' were, prompting some people on social media to speculate that self-censorship was at play. File photo: RTHK
    RTHK did not elaborate on what the 'irregularities' were, prompting some people on social media to speculate that self-censorship was at play. File photo: RTHK
Vicky Wong reports
RTHK's English-language channel Radio 3 on Monday announced that it was abandoning its search for Hong Kong's "Person of the Year", saying there had been "voting irregularities" with the latest poll.

The survey is an annual feature on the morning Backchat programme, with listeners invited to choose who they think the most significant person of the past year was from a list of nominees.

But on Monday morning's show, presenter Hugh Chiverton said the 2020 poll had been cancelled due to irregularities, without elaborating.

"Looks like it’s been manipulated and therefore instead of knocking certain people out or changing things around, we’ve decided to cancel the whole thing," Chiverton said, adding that the poll was supposed to be "a matter of fun".

A brief Facebook post by the Backchat team also failed to shed any more light on the matter.

"Unfortunately, Because of some irregularities in the voting for 'Backchat Person of the Year 2020', RTHK considered it prudent to cancel it. Sorry, and thanks for your interest."

Some people took to social media to demand a better explanation, accusing the broadcaster of self-censorship.

"Did the government pressure RTHK not to disclose a result it didn’t like?" read one comment on Facebook.

"Come on Hugh! RTHK, Backchat and you enjoy a high level of credibility and respect which is hard earned and well deserved. If you want to maintain that then you need to provide your listeners (who also fund your station) a better explanation than this," another person wrote.

One Facebook user asked: "Did someone ask Georgia for more votes?" referring to US President Donald Trump's claims that there had been vote rigging in the state of Georgia.

Voting for the RTHK poll began last month, and those taking part were required to register their email address.

Nominees included experts and figures who featured prominently during the coronavirus pandemic such as Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection, University of Hong Kong epidemiologist Professor Benjamin Cowling, frontline health workers, and “unknown cleaners”.

Other figures included Chief Executive Carrie Lam, investor activist David Webb, and World War Two veteran Peter Choi who passed away last year.

On Sunday, pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao published an article criticising the poll and the fact that another two of the nominees were the Apple Daily newspaper and RTHK reporter Nabela Qoser, who has faced the wrath of the pro-Beijing camp for her tough questioning of government officials during the protests of 2019.

Ta Kung Pao attacked RTHK for nominating one of its own employees, while noting that its rival newspaper is not even a person.

In 2019, the Backchat "Person of the Year" went to Hong Kong's protesters.