The staff union of Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK staged a silent protest on Thursday to support a fellow journalist after she was told to accept a new short-term contract or face dismissal.

The RTHK Programme Staff Union held the demonstration outside Broadcasting House in support of Nabela Qoser, who is known for her tough questioning of government officials. Qoser has been under investigation for months.

Silent protest RTHK union
A silent protest staged by the RTHK union to support their colleague Nabela Qoser. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

She was offered a 120-day contract last week, and had to decide by this Thursday whether to accept the new contract or face termination.

She had previously been under a three-year probationary period as a civil servant employed by the public broadcaster, but it was extended in September for three months as a result of the ongoing probe.

At the start of the rally, to enforce social-distancing, RTHK staffers used a measuring tape to make sure that each member was stood at a distance of at least 1.5 metres apart.

Silent protest RTHK union
RTHK union members measuring 1.5 metres between each other to ensure social distancing during their silent protest. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Over 50 staff members participated in the protest. Some wore masks featuring a cartoon version of Qoser, and some held signs with slogans such as “twisting the regulations, destroying the system,” and “today it’s Nabela Qoser, tomorrow it’ll be you, me and them.”

At the end of the protest, staff members chanted accusations aimed at management such as “politics above professionalism,” as well as “we are all Nabela Qoser.”

Silent protest RTHK union
RTHK union members holdings signs that read “Twisting the regulations, destroying the system,” and “Today Nabela Qoser, tomorrow you me and them.” Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Gladys Chiu, president of the union, said that Qoser and the union had met with RTHK chief Leung Ka-wing three times over the course of four days, but situation was at a stalemate, and Qoser had not yet decided whether to accept the contract.

Chiu said that Leung did not rectify the situation according to the procedure when the investigation team appeared to be abusing its power.

Silent protest RTHK union
Gladys Chiu, head of the staff union, giving the latest update on Nabela Qoser after the silent protest. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

She added that Eugene Fung, deputy director of broadcasting, and the secretary of RTHK have yet to go on the record to explain the investigation progress or the issue of Qoser’s contract gratuities.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.