RTHK scraps person of year poll amid attacks from Beijing loyalists

Published (HKT): 2021.01.04 15:14
RTHK reporter Nabela Qoser

RTHK’s English-language channel Radio 3 has cancelled its annual election for Hong Kong’s Person of the Year, citing voting irregularities.

Hugh Chiverton, presenter of the program Backchat, cancelled the poll on Monday morning because of thousands of irregular votes, saying the poll appeared to be controlled. “Unfortunately, because of some irregularities in the voting for ‘Backchat Person of the Year 2020’, RTHK considered it prudent to cancel it. Sorry, and thanks for your interest,” said the website. The number of votes each candidate received was not revealed.

The move came after Beijing mouthpiece Wen Wei Pao lambasted the poll for featuring RTHK reporter Nabela Qoser, known for directing hard-hitting questions at officials, and pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily as candidates.

Responding to enquiry, a RTHK spokesperson revealed that the decision was made after discussion between producers of Backchat and management of the public broadcaster. The program will not reconduct the 2020 poll and will review the voting method for future elections.

Wen Wei Pao accused RTHK of misappropriating public property and questioned the professionalism and representativeness of the poll. Citing pro-Beijing lawmaker Leung Che-cheung, the article claimed the program insulted the intelligence of Hong Kong citizens. It also urged the government to step up scrutiny of the public broadcaster and demanded the management to conduct a review.

Other candidates of the poll include Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the city’s frontline health staff, cleaning workers and top health official Chuang Shuk-kwan, who hosts the daily press briefing on the pandemic.

Pro-Beijing online media Today Review also criticized the poll for including Apple Daily and Qoser, claiming their inclusion is offensive to other candidates.

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