Hong Kong media experts yesterday expressed fears for freedom of speech after the government unveiled plans to set up an audit team to monitor the territory's public broadcaster.
The Audit Commission released a damning report on Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) on Wednesday highlighting its poor financial controls, management problems and its failure to comply with government rules and procedures.
The internal audit team, which includes audit staff members from the government-funded broadcaster, will be led by the Hong Kong Treasury and the Audit Commission.
RTHK has long been under pressure from the pro-Beijing camp for not defending or strongly promoting government policies.
They had also attacked RTHK's satirical programs for poking fun at government officials.
While government officials dismissed any political motives behind the moves, local media experts were worried that the government could move to tighten its grip on RTHK following its decision in January to launch a review of public broadcasting policy.
They also raised fears for the broadcaster's editorial independence and expressed concern that it could be transformed into a government propaganda tool.
"There's a danger ... that it will creep into that direction. If RTHK are subject to the criticism, they will spend more time complying with official requirements. They will feel less independent," said Tim Hamlett, professor of journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University.
"This is bound to raise concerns for the freedom of speech here because the mainland don't have it," he said.
Associate journalism professor Louise Leung (梁永熾) said: "The government must be cautious and advised not to add additional constraints rigidly that is to kill creativity and narrow down the latitude of press freedom."
The former British colony returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 with Beijing's promise that it would continue to enjoy those liberties.
However, watchdogs say some media firms practise self-censorship of news items critical of China.
Six months ago RTHK was forced to axe its decades-old horse-racing radio commentary following criticism by Chief Executive Donald Tsang (
The new report includes complaints that news teams did not get management approval to work overtime before covering a breaking story.
Cheung Ping-ling (
"The commission had never set up any special committees in any organizations that made mistakes that led to losses of millions of dollars ... I question why the government is putting such pressure on RTHK," she said.
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South
‘AVOIDABLE SITUATION’: After being tortured in his home country, a Sri Lankan and his family are at risk of deportation from the UK, despite his academic fellowship A scientist conducting groundbreaking research into renewable energy is facing deportation with his family to Sri Lanka, where he was tortured, after receiving contradictory information about his case from the British Home Office. Nadarajah Muhunthan, 47, his wife, Sharmila, 42, and their three children, aged 13, nine and five, went to the UK in 2018 after Muhunthan, who is working on thin-film photovoltaic devices used to generate solar power, was given a prestigious Commonwealth Rutherford fellowship. The award allowed him to reside to the UK for two years to research and develop the technology. His wife obtained a job caring for
Black ticks on their foreheads marking the eye to be operated on, dozens of patients in green overalls wait in line, beneficiaries of a pioneering Indian model that is restoring sight to millions. With a highly efficient assembly line model inspired by McDonald’s, the network of hospitals of the Aravind Eye Care System performs about 500,000 surgeries a year — many for free. More than one-quarter of the world’s population, or about 2.2 billion people, have a vision impairment, and 1 billion of the cases could have been prevented, WHO data shows. There are about 10 million blind people in India, and
A top global law firm is no longer representing the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in seeking the removal of a Tiananmen memorial from its campus after it came under heavy criticism in the US for helping China purge dissent, the Washington Post reported. Mayer Brown is the latest international company to face pressure over how its actions in China contradict its more progressive statements in the West. The 8m high Pillar of Shame sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot has stood on HKU’s campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China. It features 50 anguished faces and tortured