Director of Broadcasting Leung Ka-wing will leave his post at Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK by the end of February – six months before the end of his term, the government has announced.

Leung Ka-wing. Photo: Citizen News.

The agreement between Leung and the government originally set to expire in August was “resolved early by mutual consent,” the government announced in a statement on Friday.

From March 1, Leung will be replaced by Patrick Li Pak-chuen, currently deputy secretary for home affairs, who “will ensure that RTHK fully abides by the Charter of RTHK,” it read.

Patrick Li Pak chuen. Photo: GovHK

“Mr Li is a seasoned Administrative Officer with proven leadership and management skill,” Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip said. “I believe that he will continue to serve the community with professionalism and dedication in his new capacity, and ably lead the Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) to meet the challenges ahead.”

Li has been deputy secretary for home affairs since July 2017. He joined the government in 1990, and became a grade B1 administrative officer in 2019. Government bureaux and departments he served in included departments of health, education, and home affairs, the Security Bureau, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, and the Chief Executive’s Office.

Addressing the announcement of his departure, Leung cited traditional Chinese poetry and proverbs in a message to RTHK staffers, the broadcaster reported. The verses suggested a sense of solidarity and gratitude towards staffers as he accepted his departure with a calm demeanour, in spite of the change in circumstances.

RTHK under fire

The announcement came days after China’s broadcast authority announced that the BBC would be banned from the airwaves. RTHK – which broadcasts a BBC feed overnight – followed suit hours later.

Leung admitted he issued orders to stop airing BBC news programming, in line with the decision made by Beijing, but said he was not under pressure to do so, RTHK reported.

Headline hosts Ng Chi-sum (left) and Tsang Chi-ho (right). File Photo: RTHK screenshot.

The public broadcaster has been under fire from various quarters as the government tightened its grip on the publicly-funded broadcaster in the wake of the 2019 pro-democracy protests and unrest.

Since then, the city’s oldest satirical show Headliner was axed after episodes critical of the police sparked backlash. Documentary producer Bao Choy is facing prosecution over allegedly making false statements, while reporting for an episode of Hong Kong Connection that investigated the July 2019 Yue Long mob attacks. Reporter Nabela Qoser, known for her tough questioning of officials, had her probationary period extended as an investigation against her continued.

News programme The Pulse was criticised by the government for allegedly breaching the One China policy, after its producer asked questions about Taiwan’s efforts to join the World Health Organisation.

Bao Choy. File Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Last July, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau set up a dedicated team to review RTHK’s governance and management, following the regulator’s unfavourable rulings. The review’s findings are expected to be announced Friday around noon.

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.