Special interview with Mr Erik Mak Ka-wai
Mr Erik Mak Ka-wai, 30, is the host and co-producer for RTHK's weekly talk showFace to Face, better known as "Friday Home Court" in Chinese. Renowned for his signature pointed questions and tough-talking style when confronting government officials, he has dismissed speculation that the programme, which has been on the city's free TV channels since late 2012 by order of RTHK's government-appointed chief Mr Roy Tang Yun-kwong, would be a propaganda-packed political tool.
"If ‘Friday Home Court' is a mouthpiece, I will only consider it as the people's mouthpiece," said Mr Mak in the talk show's debut. But fame is never followed by admiration only - the populist host has been slammed by some for depriving his high-level guests of a fair platform for debate by interrupting aggressively and asking biased questions.
The Young Reporter had a special interview with Mr Mak to have the personality at the centre of controversy speaking his mind.
Q: Face to Face has seen both positive and negative feedback. How do you feel about it?
A: "It doesn't matter to me. I don't take it seriously. I will reflect on myself after receiving negative feedback but if it's nonsense, I will just ignore it. I also tell myself that I should never be complacent about positive response. I'll just keep on doing what I'd like to pursue."
Q: Have you felt any political pressure?
A: "I actually haven't felt any so far. Unlike private media organisations, luckily, RTHK doesn't put many restrictions on us. We can produce programmes in our own style."
Q: What do you see as the biggest problems in Hong Kong's local media?
A: "More and more local media are now practising self-censorship, which will affect Hong Kong's freedom of speech. This is probably an unhealthy trend … Journalists being underpaid is another big issue in the industry. It is pathetic that not only do common people, but also senior executives, who themselves probably used to be reporters just a few years ago, believe that reporters are only worth such a pittance. The market has been distorted."
Q: What is your comment on the city's current political situation?
A: "There are too many problems in Hong Kong right now. Every pillar is collapsing. Even if we are determined and persistent, we can hardly have them recovered … I think the time is ripe for Hong Kong citizens to take part in the Chief Executive election by universal suffrage."
Q: Do you think there has been increased political participation among locals in recent years?
A: "Is it true that Hong Kong people have really taken part in current affairs? No doubt our people constantly complain about the government and its policies. But have they translated that into actions to fight against the policies? I don't think so. I don't think they are persistent enough. Take the battle for free TV licences as an example. People criticized the TV station's monopoly, but they just keep watching programmes it produces … They can simply stop watching that TV channel to vent their dissatisfaction."
Q: As a law student at university, why did you decide to pursue a master's degree in Journalism?
A: "I was planning my career path when I was in my final year. I wanted to do something that has more positive influence on society. So I thought Journalism was a better choice."
Reported by Rainbow Li
Edited by Mak Lawrence Li
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