Decision to extend RTHK reporter Nabela Qoser’s probation is ‘very unfair,’ union says

RTHK presenter Nabela Qoser donned an armored costume in her opening report about the controversy surrounding Disney’s Mulan film on the broadcaster’s “This Week” program on Sept. 15, 2020. Photo via YouTube/RTHK
RTHK presenter Nabela Qoser donned an armored costume in her opening report about the controversy surrounding Disney’s Mulan film on the broadcaster’s “This Week” program on Sept. 15, 2020. Photo via YouTube/RTHK

The RTHK Program Staff Union has expressed their strong opposition to the extension of reporter Nabela Qoser’s probation period at the government-funded broadcaster.

Sources reported yesterday that Qoser, known for her sharp, unrelenting questioning of local officials at press conferences, has had another 120 days added to her already three-year long probation as a civil servant. If she doesn’t accept the new terms, she will have to leave her post.

Members of the union, holding up signs reading “unjustified suppression” outside the RTHK headquarters on Monday morning, protested what has been decried as a baseless decision.

Union chairperson Gladys Chiu said that Qoser has already completed at least six reviews within her three-year probation, and that any issues with her professional work would have been raised.

“We can’t see that there have been any major issues that would have led to this probation extension,” Chiu said.

“To use this probation [extension] as a method to try every means possible to find wrongdoing, such that she cannot be a proper civil servant, is in conflict with our review system,” she said.

Chiu said she thinks the probation extension would compromise the professional work of RTHK staff in the long run, as it conveys the idea that those who do not “convey messages that the authorities want you to convey… will be subject to different kinds of obstacles.”

“Other colleagues passed their probation without question, it seems,” she said.

Qoser was commended last year for her rapid-fire questioning of Chief Executive Carrie Lam the morning after the violent attacks at Yuen Long station on July 21.

When Lam brushed off her questions repeatedly, she demanded that she “answer like a human being.”

Pro-Beijing groups have vilified Qoser, calling her disrespectful and even directing racial slurs at her. Qoser is of Pakistani descent, and was born and raised in Hong Kong. She formerly worked with local media outlets including Ming Pao and TVB.

Read more: Equality watchdog slams online slurs aimed at local journalist of South Asian descent

The staff union said that it would be meeting with RTHK management later this afternoon to clarify who made the decision to prolong her probation.

Qoser is currently the host of RTHK‘s weekly 30-minute program, “This Week,” on which she discusses current affairs and interviews politicians and other guests.

Earlier this month, she donned a metal armor and held a sword in one hand in her opening report on the controversy around Disney’s live-action film, Mulan.

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