RTHK journalist Nabela Qoser, who enraged pro-government figures with her tough questioning of officials during the 2019 protests, has had her civil service contract terminated, the station's staff union said on Friday.
Qoser, an assistant programme officer, has instead been offered a 120-day contract as an internal investigation into complaints made about her reporting continues.
The journalist's confrontational approach towards Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other officials at press conferences amid the months of social unrest sparked a flood of complaints to RTHK, and she was accused of being aggressive and biased.
But she also received plenty of praise and was cleared of wrongdoing following an internal probe.
Last October, however, the investigation was re-opened, and Qoser had her probation period as a civil servant extended by 120 days until the end of January.
The RTHK Programme Staff Union said Qoser was informed on Thursday that her civil service contract is being terminated, but she can take the new short contract instead if she wishes.
The union said management had stated, only verbally, that this short contract will be on civil service terms.
But the union said the journalist's previous years of service and MPF contributions will not be carried over, adding that the arrangement is unheard of for an entry level civil servant, with such short contracts normally only given to those who need to stay on for a while past their retirement date.
Union chairwoman Gladys Chiu said the "unprecedented, arbitrary and non-transparent" handling of the matter is an insult to everyone at RTHK.
"Whatever procedures that the management try to adopt.... in fact this is a termination of employment. However, it disguises itself as an act of grace, which is further enraging to the staff union," Chiu told reporters.
"I believe no staff should be treated this way."
Chiu said Qoser has been given until January 28 to decide whether to accept the contract.
The union leader also said the investigation into Qoser has involved looking at complaints borne out of "fake news" - such as an allegation that Qoser had asked the Chief Executive "When will you die?"
The station's management had already clarified that Qoser did not ask this question, Chiu said.
An RTHK spokesman said the public broadcaster does not comment on individual cases.
But as a government department, he said, the station handles recruitment matters in accordance with civil service regulations and established mechanisms set out by the Civil Service Bureau.
Meanwhile, the Journalists Association has condemned RTHK's decision to terminate Qoser's current civil service contract, saying it amounts to passing down a verdict without having a trial.
In a statement, the JA said the move was extremely unreasonable and called on the RTHK management to speed up the investigation on Qoser without bowing to political pressure.
The association stressed a journalist's role is to find out the truth, and in the process of doing so, he or she is bound to have to ask tough questions.
Last updated: 2021-01-22 HKT 19:45