RTHK has a new chief and it's the same man we know

August 06, 2015 17:55
Four years ago no one would have thought Leung Ka-wing would make a dramatic comeback after the fiasco over the purported death of JIang Zemin. Photos: HKEJ, ATV

No, it can't be true.

He has been absent for nearly four years after his station misreported the death of Jiang Zemin.

Now Leung Ka-wing is back with a vengeance to lead RTHK, the reputable but troubled government station, in one of the most turbulent periods in Hong Kong.

News of Leung taking over the top job from the unpopular Roy Tang, the incumbent director of broadcasting, was everywhere Thursday, with many screaming his name.

Leung's appointment was greeted with skepticism as expected, but to be fair, there is never any perfect candidate for the job.

But four years ago, no one would have thought Leung would make such a dramatic comeback.

People still remember how ATV, of which he was vice president of news at the time, reported that Jiang Zemin had died, the only media outlet to run the story.

Since then, Leung has been synonymous with the non-event.

Knowing that he was the ATV news chief, no one ignored the breaking news.

Unfortunately, it went down as a textbook case of the facts not getting in the way of a good story.

Leung was summoned to a Legco hearing where he invoked a well-worn journalistic privilege not to reveal a news source.

In the end, ATV had to pay a fine.

But make no mistake about it. Leung is serious about news, according to people who have worked with him.

He is is a stickler for detail, especially when it comes to pronunciations and choice of words. 

Going to his post-mortem news meetings was like being at a funeral -- no one was smiling.

Colleagues say he was a respectful and effective manager but he eschewed fraternizing with subordinates, so he was rarely seen in the office cafeteria.

I was privileged to work with him for a short while and many of my friends still talk about him like he was a legend -- a local version of Robert Redford in Up Close And Personal but with a flair for “wing chun”.

Leung started his career in the 1970s in Commercial Television (defunct since 1978) before moving to TVB for the anchor job until the 1990s when he emigrated to the United States.

When he returned years later, he took over as TVB news manager before joining the Economic Times to launch a news portal, ET Vision.

After the joint venture failed, he switched to ATV news until his high-profile departure on Sept. 5, 2011.

Since then, Leung has been a lecturer of journalism in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Welcome back, Leung Ka-wing.

RTHK is no easy task, but then neither was any of your previous work.

It would be nice if his station could put Jiang Zemin on the air and asked to comment on Hong Kong and the media (did he famously say Hong Kong media is “too simple and sometimes naive”?)

Anyway, good luck!

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EJ Insight writer