Wednesday, December 2, 2015   

RTHK chief quits amid media frenzy

Una So and Diana Lee

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Broadcasting chief Chu Pui-hing has decided to opt for early retirement in a bid to end the media glare which has surrounded him since his bizarre flight from cameramen last Thursday night.

"It is now time to go," the director of broadcasting solemnly announced in his first public appearance since the incident, as cameras flashed and more than 70 reporters crowded round him to hear his latest words on the subject.

Chu said the publicity surrounding the incident was harming the morale of RTHK staff and the image of the organization.

"For the benefit of the organization, I think the strife must end now without further entanglement. Originally, I planned to retire in 10 months. However, the time to say good-bye has come much earlier," Chu said.


The exact date of departure is still unknown as he has yet to hand in a formal application.

The media frenzy began around 10pm Thursday in Causeway Bay. Chu, with a female companion on his arm, was spotted emerging from a building by cameramen covering a concert nearby.

The broadcasting chief was photographed ducking behind his companion and the picture made the front page of major Chinese newspapers the next day.

RTHK's corporate communications apologized Friday for what it called Chu's "out of character" behavior.

Chu said Monday he had explained the incident to his wife and family. "I have their full support and acceptance," he said.

He reiterated that last Thursday's party was merely a gathering of friends, and denied allegations of improper acceptance of money or other offerings.

"That was a private gathering among friends, with no RTHK staffers or civil servants. We have met frequently for years, even some of them have met with my family. We paid for ourselves in these gatherings," he said.

Chu refused to comment on any questions related to his female companion or whether she had been paid for her presence.

According to media reports, his companion was a woman in her 20s named CoCo. She came from Szechuan. The reports claim she obtained a student visa two years ago and has worked in Australia.

In recent months, she began working at the Must Kara karaoke bar - a popular hangout for people in the music industry. Chu said while some of the media reports over the past few days were inaccurate, there was no value to either the RTHK or the public in him clarifying them.

Throughout the press conference, Chu appeared calm and delivered his answers in an even tone, until asked about leaving his workplace of more than 30 years.

He took a deep breath and admitted the decision was "very difficult" - particularly when the embattled RTHK is facing an uncertain future.

"Like flowing water under bridges, it all shall pass. When you look back, you wouldn't even know where the water is," he said.

"In the wake of the review of public broadcasting, RTHK needs to gain public support. In the future, it will face questions like how to go on and who will be the chief. It is impossible for me to feel light at heart when I'm leaving at this point."

Chu said he believed his private matters should have little effect on RTHK's future. He was confident RTHK staff would keep providing high quality public broadcasting programs.

Political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung described Chu as "a gentleman," adding the experience had caused him much pain. Choy also said the decision to resign was "a move in political risk management."

"This has tarnished the image of RTHK. If he doesn't go, the wound will continue to bleed and the public will have a more negative opinion about the broadcaster," he said.

Choy said the biggest threat now to RTHK was the appointment of an administrative officer to replace Chu. "That person might not share RTHK's values or defend it as fiercely as Chu. Much distrust may emerge between the new management and the staff."

The Chief Executive's Office, Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and Civil Service Bureau all said they had not received a formal application from Chu seeking early retirement.

The CE's office said though Chu intended to leave, he was still required to give the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the Civil Service Bureau a report of the incident.

It said since there were allegations about benefits arising from the party, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau was looking into the case and could not say if there would be any effect on Chu's pension.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma Si- hang said the bureau would handle the matter according to civil service regulations.

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