Outspoken RTHK journalist faces dismissal after employer ends probation

Published (HKT): 2021.01.22 20:03

A journalist for Hong Kong’s public broadcaster who confronted the city’s leader Carrie Lam over her handling of the 2019 protests is facing dismissal after her employer ended her three-year-odd probation for a civil service post and offered her a contract for just 120 days.

Nabela Qoser, an assistant program officer at RTHK, has been asked to sign the new contract for 120 days of temporary employment as her probation has now ended and the outcome of a review on her work has been delayed, Apple Daily has learnt.

Qoser’s probation was extended by 120 days in late September last year, shortly before she was due to complete the three-year probation under civil servant employment terms in October. The broadcaster then launched a probe into her work, citing complaints received against her since July that year. Results of the probe, originally due earlier this month, would determine if Qoser was to gain a coveted contract as a permanent civil servant.

The extension on her probation was set to expire this month, and Qoser was told that as the result of the probe was pending she needed to sign a new contract for 120 days if she wanted to continue to work at RTHK.

Failure to accept the contract would be seen as willingness to quit, according to people with information from the public broadcaster. Qoser has yet to decide whether to accept, the sources said.

Some of the complaints handled in the probe involved false accusations against Qoser, including claims that she had asked Lam when she would die, Apple Daily has learnt. The journalist had never asked such a question of the Hong Kong leader.

The Hong Kong-born journalist of Pakistani origin has been a target of Communist Party and Beijing loyalists over her sharp questioning of Lam during months of protests against the government’s extradition bill in 2019.

During a press conference on the Yuen Long mob attack against protesters on Jul. 21 that year, Qoser asked Lam to “speak like a human being” when the chief executive appeared to sidestep a barrel of questions challenging her government’s handling of the protests.

Eugene Fung, the deputy director of broadcasting who was leading the probe, should be held accountable for his inefficiency in not completing the inquiry by the early January deadline, said Gladys Chiu, head of the RTHK Programme Staff Union. She described the treatment of Qoser as ridiculous and said the 120 temp contract looked like a prelude to her dismissal.

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