Steve Vines leaves RTHK, citing national security law

Veteran journalist, Steve Vines, has announced he’s quitting RTHK, citing the national security law that was introduced in Hong Kong exactly a year ago.

Vines had been serving as a guest presenter on the public broadcaster’s Backchat programme since April, after RTHK dropped him as a current affairs commentator on its Morning Brew show after more than ten years.

Speaking at the end of Wednesday’s edition of Backchat, the veteran journalist announced his departure.

“We happen to be discussing the first anniversary of the national security law today, it seems to me that for somebody who is more critical, the time to remain at RTHK has ended. So with great regret – but reflecting great pleasure over the years – I think I better go,” he told listeners.

Vines also hosts RTHK’s English-language political TV programme, The Pulse, which airs its final episode on Friday before taking a summer break.

He was unable to say whether the programme would return, but said he would continue his work as a columnist and author for other publications.

“I think that the whole point about RTHK and the reason why I’ve always liked it is it took very seriously its role as a public broadcaster, by which I mean a broadcaster that was more responsible to the public than it was to the people who provided the money, i.e. the government. But then you could say, well who provides the money for the government – that’s also the public,” he said

“The reason why I have misgivings now is that I don’t feel that the mandate of RTHK as a public broadcaster is as strong as it was in the past, I think there’s much more pressure on the station to be an organ of government rather than a public broadcaster.”

Vines said he has “enormous respect and goodwill” towards RTHK, and would be happy to do things for the station on an ad hoc basis.

“But I don’t think there’s really a place for somebody like me as a semi-permanent fixture,” he added.

RTHK, for its part, said it will not comment on the resignation of individual service providers.

Since the national security law took effect a year ago, the public broadcaster has seen the departure of several senior executives and high-profile programme hosts.