Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK is reopening an investigation into journalist Nabela Qoser, who is well known for her tough, rapid-fire questioning of top government officials.
On Sunday, the broadcaster’s staff union said on Facebook that RTHK had reopened its probe over her conduct at government press conferences so that complaints made against her during last year’s pro-democracy protests can be re-examined.
Qoser hit the headlines last July when she grilled Chief Executive Carrie Lam and then-police commissioner Stephen Lo over the Yuen Long mob attack. Qoser confronted the embattled leader over the delayed police response: “Did you learn about it only this morning? Were you able to sleep well last night?” she asked.
In November, she repeatedly pressed the police over their potential involvement in the death of protester Chow Tsz-lok who died following a fall from a car park.
Qoser – a Baptist University graduate – previously worked at TVB and Ming Pao. RTHK requires a three year probationary period for staff, but the union said that Qoser has been told that her probation will be extended for 120 days.
In January, Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission hit out against racially-charged comments aimed at Qoser. A statement condemned comments on social media “attacking the race and skin colour of a female journalist.”
Head of the University of Hong Kong’s journalism department Keith Richburg raised concerns over press freedom in response to the news: “Since when is asking tough questions to officials ‘aggressive’ & biased’? This is another step on the slippery slope to media repression. Journalists’ job is to hold power to account. After the police action last week, another blow to press freedom in HK,” he said on Twitter.
RTHK spokesperson Amen Ng told the broadcaster that they would not comment on individual cases, but the government has established mechanisms to deal with employment related matters involving civil servants.
RTHK is fully funded by the Hong Kong government but maintains that its news coverage is independent and impartial.
Last week, Lam backed a controversial new police decision to recognise journalists only from government-registered news outlets.