IFJ Fears Erosion of Editorial Independence in Hong Kong

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA)

in voicing deep concerns about the appointment of a civil servant as director

of broadcasting of publicly-owned Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) on

September 9.


Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic

Development Bureau, which oversees public broadcasting, appointed deputy

secretary for labour and welfare Roy Tang Yun-Kwong as director of broadcasting

despite his lack of experience in the media sector.


Tang, who has been a civil servant

since 1987, was appointed after no candidate was found to be suitable among 26

applications for the role. His appointment drew immediate criticism from former

RTHK director Franklin Wong, the broadcaster’s staff union,

academics and legislators.


RTHK Program Staff Union chairwoman Janet

Mak Lai-Ching described Tang’s appointment as a “dark day” for the public



“Tang has no knowledge of public

broadcasting,” Mak said. “His appointment is an indication of the Government's infringement of RTHK's

editorial independence.”


The HKJA, an IFJ affiliate, condemned

the appointment, saying it would diminish RTHK’s role as a public broadcaster

and put it at risk of becoming a propaganda tool for the Hong Kong Government.


RTHK staff members have fought a

long campaign for RTHK to become a truly independent broadcaster, rather than

its current structure as an independent government department. The Commerce and

Economic Development Bureau ruled in 2009 against establishing RTHK as an

independent entity.


According to a Sing Tao report, Tang was a classmate of Michael Wong Wai-Lun, the director

of Hong Kong’s Information Service Department.


“It is frustrating that this appointment

comes so soon after the HKJA and Hong Kong News Executives’ Association met

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Henry Tang and Michael Wong on August 31 to express

their concerns about the rights of media covering government activities,” IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“The appointment

is a regressive step for press freedom and highlights serious reservations about the

ability of the Government of Hong Kong to maintain a transparent and

accountable system of governance for RTHK.”


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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