Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK will not extend an employment contract for journalist Nabela Qoser, who is well known for her tough, rapid-fire questioning of top government officials.

Nabela Qoser. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

RTHK Programme Staff Union confirmed on Monday that Qoser will not be awarded a civil servant contract following her probation – which was already extended twice, RTHK reported. She will therefore leave RTHK at the end of the month.

Qoser was investigated twice by the broadcaster following complaints. The journalist was renowned for her tough questioning of Hong Kong officials during the height of the city’s pro-democracy protests in 2019, especially after a mob attack by white-clad thugs on passengers at Yuen Long subway station.

An RTHK spokesperson told HKFP that it deals with “staff issues in accordance with the established mechanism and procedures (including established guidelines of Civil Service Bureau and the Civil Service Regulations). RTHK will not comment on individual staff cases.”

RTHK crackdown

Supporters say Qoser is the victim of political persecution amid a crackdown at the government-owned broadcaster, which is meant to be editorially independent.

Since the arrival of the new Director of Broadcasting Patrick Li in March, who has no media background but introduced a massive editorial overhaul, ten RTHK television episodes have been censored before they were broadcast. Meanwhile, at least five top executives have resigned or took early retirement amid a staff exodus, and – on Monday – the broadcaster began deleting archived shows from its YouTube and Facebook channels.

RTHK, yes, is a public broadcaster but it is also a government department,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said last September when asked about Qoser’s case. “So like all the other government departments, the departmental management has to manage its staff in accordance with the rules and regulations of the civil service.”

In January, the staff union staged a silent protest in support of Qoser.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.