RTHK terminates Nabela Qoser’s 3-year civil servant contract

Local | 22 Jan 2021 5:28 pm

RTHK has terminated the 3-year contract of journalist Nabela Qoser, who enraged pro-government figures with her tough questioning of officials during the 2019 protests, giving her a much shorter one instead, RTHK staff union said today.

Qoser, an assistant program officer, has been offered a 120-day contract as an internal investigation into complaints made about her reporting continues, RTHK reports.

The journalist's confrontational approach towards Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other officials at press conferences amid the months of social unrest sparked a flood of complaints to RTHK, and she was accused of being aggressive and biased.

But she also received plenty of praise and was cleared of wrongdoing following an internal probe.

Last October, however, the investigation was re-opened, and Qoser had her probation period as a civil servant extended by 120 days until the end of January.

The RTHK Programme Staff Union said Qoser was informed on Thursday that her civil service contract is being terminated, but she can take the new short contract instead if she wishes.

The union said management had stated, only verbally, that this short contract will be on civil service terms.

But the union said the journalist's previous years of service and MPF contributions will not be carried over, adding that the arrangement is unheard of for an entry level civil servant, with such short contracts normally only given to those who need to stay on for a while past their retirement date.

The union also said the management is using “alternative means” to get her fired.

Union chairwoman Gladys Chiu said the "unprecedented, arbitrary and non-transparent" handling of the matter is an insult to everyone at RTHK.

"Whatever procedures that the management try to adopt.... in fact this is a termination of employment. However, it disguises itself as an act of grace, which is further enraging to the staff union," Chiu told reporters.

"I believe no staff should be treated this way."

Chiu said Qoser has been given until January 28 to decide whether to accept the contract.

The union leader also said the investigation into Qoser has involved looking at complaints borne out of "fake news" - such as an allegation that Qoser had asked the Chief Executive "When will you die?"

The station's management had already clarified that Qoser did not ask this question, Chiu said.

An RTHK spokesman said the public broadcaster does not comment on individual cases.

But as a government department, he said, the station handles recruitment matters in accordance with civil service regulations and established mechanisms set out by the Civil Service Bureau.

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