Last year, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) relaunched with no ground an investigation into complaints against Assistant Programme Officer Nabela Qoser. Her probation period was extended by 120 days for the fresh probe. Media reports said Qoser is now given seven days by RTHK to decide whether she will accept the offer of a short-term contract. RTHK claimed the investigation remains unfinished.
The HKJA takes the view that RTHK’s handling of the matter is unfair. Qoser has already completed her three-year probationary term as a civil servant. The management’s offer of a short-term contract is in effect a dismissal. It is a case of giving a verdict without a trial.
The HKJA denounces any political interventions from parties involved in the personnel matters of RTHK’s editorial department. RTHK should complete the investigation as soon as possible. RTHK should not put pressure on journalists because of external political pressure. Frontline reporters should not face suppressions of any kind.
RTHK held a fresh investigation into complaints made against Qoser last year. The complaints had to do with her performance and behaviour at government press conferences between July and November in 2019. Those reporting work was done in public with live broadcasts and recordings available. That the investigation has taken more than a year and a half is inconceivable. The prolonged process has put immense pressure on her.
Journalists perform the duty of fourth power. They raise tough questions during reporting for the purpose of seeking truth. Doing so may make some people unhappy.
The new investigation is clearly political intervention with the RTHK’s personnel matters that involved editorial staff. It involves political pressure from political parties, some media with official background and government officials. The HKJA is deeply concerned about the matter. We worry journalists being punished for having raised tough questions will create a chilling effect.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
22 January 2021