City Forum, a long-running political and social affairs program by public broadcaster RTHK, has been holding public discussions in Victoria Park every Sunday since 1980.
The forum has witnessed how Hong Kong society has become divided in recent years, with radical reactions from the audience often interrupting speakers.
Joseph Tse, who retires in October, made his last appearance as host in the season finale in July and passed the torch to So King-hang, an experienced young journalist who has worked for TVB and RTHK.
So, 34, first learned about the appointment one month ago.
He has covered several breaking news including the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, the 2011 Japanese tsunami and visits by foreign leaders.
“Each time, my boss would call and and I would go, no questions asked,” he said.
“This time is no different. I will do my best and think less about the outcome.”
So is confident his long years as a journalist will be helpful.
“For instance, many unexpected events happened during the Umbrella Movement last year. What I did was focus on what I could do at that moment.”
So sees City Forum as a platform for people to express their views and his role is to keep the discussions running smoothly as did his predecessor.
With a sociology degree, So is well aware of the limits of theory or ideology.
He keeps an open mind and takes note of small details such as when he began to wonder about what life might be like for the so-called “uncles” of Victoria Park.
These are a group of elderly men who often shout at pan-democrat speakers.
“I want to know more about them. They must have endured much burden, so their views on society have been shaped by this experience,” he said.
“They might not have a chance to finish what they have to say because of the time limit.”
Nonetheless, So said he will stop personal attacks.
“I hope people will stick to their lines of reasoning, instead of making emotional or sweeping statement,” he said.
“In a civilized society, people don’t shout at someone simply because they’re angry.”
He said free speech does not depend on one host or one program but is a combined effort and productive discussions come about when people are tolerant of one another.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 2.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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