Members of a pro-police group have accused local broadcaster RTHK of producing TV programmes critical of the government and in favour of last year’s pro-democracy Occupy protests.
Around ten protesters from the Justice Alliance arrived by tour bus at RTHK’s headquarters on Thursday to protest against the broadcaster’s “biased” reporting.
They called RTHK a broadcaster that “hurts the feelings of Hong Kongers”. The group said that the publicly funded broadcaster had a tendency to pick on the government, as well as give airtime to guests who speak in favour of last year’s Occupy demonstrations.
The demonstrators wore imperial Chinese attire to mock an RTHK political commentary show that used similar clothing in a role play.
Prior to the protest, the group had gathered at Wanchai Police Station to show support for the force. Leticia Lee See-yin, who led the two demonstrations, said that the police force was the “hope” for Hong Kong’s rule of law, which was being “destroyed” by some Hong Kongers “in the name of freedom of expression”.
Lee is an outspoken activist known for her leadership role within several anti-Occupy and pro-police groups. She led the Justice Alliance to protest on HKU and CUHK campuses during a citywide class boycott last September. Last month, Lee announced that she would be setting up a political party called Justice Alliance Party.
RTHK’s veteran journalist Joseph Tse Chi-fung, who met with the alliance at the demonstration, denies the accusation that RTHK is biased. “We’re committed to running an open platform that accommodates different opinions. I believe we have fulfilled our duties as journalists.”
He added, “As a governmental department, we listen to public opinion and handle every complaint. But on this occasion [the group] didn’t seem to have a clear demand, so it’s difficult to give them a response.”
In a video shot by the alliance, Tse is referred to as a “moron” and appears to be ridiculed by the demonstrators. Asked how he handled the situation, Tse said, “They won’t listen to you. So the way I approach it is to explain philosophical concepts in a light-hearted manner: They said I was a dog, I told them ‘I’m a watchdog.’ They accused me of being paid (by pan-democrats) to criticise the government, I told them I’m indeed employed by RTHK to be a watchdog.”
Tse has been targeted by supporters of the government, who criticise him for being biased and inviting pan-democrats to his weekly televised debate City Forum. On multiple occasions, security guards had to ask pro-government supporters, who kept interrupting the forum, to leave.
Francis Moriarty, former RTHK journalist and founder of the press freedom committee of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, told HKFP that the alliance had a right to free speech and protest, and protests like this did not pose a threat to journalists’ work.
“The most worrisome pressures on press freedom are those you cannot see, and assaults committed by those who are hard to prosecute and working for unknown employers, such as those behind the attack on Kevin Lau,” said Moriarty.
Kevin Lau Chun-to, ex-editor for local newspaper Ming Pao, was attacked with a cleaver on the street last year. His attack raised widespread concern that local journalists had become targets of assault. A court heard on Wednesday that two suspects admitted to being paid HK$100,000 each in the “meticulously planned” attack.