The acting deputy director of Hong Kong’s embattled public broadcaster has stepped down after less than a year in the position, citing personal and health reasons.

Kirindi Chan Man-kuen, 56, has worked for RTHK for more than 30 years and oversaw the production of current affairs TV shows. She tendered her resignation on June 1 and will serve three more months in the position, the outlet reported on Thursday.

Chan Man-kuen
Kirindi Chan Man-kuen. File photo: Stand News.

The publicly-funded broadcaster has come under fire for its decision to air a 20-episode TV programme on Beijing’s looming national security law for Hong Kong, after it reported a board of government-appointed advisors had instructed it to do so to alleviate public concern.

China’s rubber-stamp parliament last month approved plans to implement legislation to publish subversion, secession, foreign interference and terrorism in Hong Kong, which has seen months of pro-democracy protest and unrest. 

RTHK has been embroiled in controversy over the satirical current affairs programme Headliner which implied police officers had more protective equipment than frontline government agencies and medical staff during the coronavirus outbreak. Its opinion show Pentaprism was also accused of “inciting hatred” towards the force over its siege of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, prompting the Communication’s Authority to issue a warning.

RTHK. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Amen Ng, director of corporate communications and standards at RTHK, said at a press conference on Thursday that there were no political reasons behind Chan’s resignation. She added that the acting deputy director of broadcasting was not directly involved in the production of the controversial programmes.

“What she [does] is mainly for the administration work so down to the daily operation of the programme, I don’t think it’s [her] main jobs. What [she] does is make the decision but not the programme itself,” Ng said.

RTHK’s staff union said in a statement issued shortly after the announcement they respected Chan’s decision to step down and thanked her for her efforts in safeguarding the broadcaster’s editorial independence.

“The change in personnel has raised concerns due to the intensifying attacks on RTHK. But we understand that the credibility of RTHK is the result of the struggle of countless predecessors. We urge colleagues of all ranks to not forget our original purpose, persist and defend the public’s right to know till the end,” it read.

Additional reporting: Rachel Wong

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.