Ming Pao’s Executive Chief Editor Sacked: Concerns About Censorship and Press Freedom Rise

Ming Pao’s Executive Chief Editor Sacked: Concerns About Censorship and Press Freedom Rise
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Ming Pao Daily’s Editor-In-Chief Chong Tien-siong fired Keung Kwok-yuen, executive chief editor, late last night [Tuesday] claiming that the decision was made to “reduce resources.” Ming Pao Staff Association (MPSA) issued a statement on its Facebook page expressing their anger, demanding the management and Chong to explain the decision with all staff.

Comments on social media question if Chong’s decision was political driven. Press freedom and self-censorship in Hong Kong is, once again, under the spotlight.

There were a lot of criticisms of the appointment of Chong Tien-siong back in 2014. Chong took over from Kevin Lau Chun-to, who was attacked in February 2014. Many are concerned that Chong’s pro-China stance can pose a threat to the newspaper’s traditionally unbiased reporting style and editorial independence.

As the storm created by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) Panama Papers continues to gain strength, there are rumours suggesting that Lau’s attack was related to Panama Papers, as it is believed that Kevin Lau was actively involved in the project.

Today’s Ming Pao Daily front page story, coincidentally, is a feature on Panama Papers focusing on tycoons and political figures in Hong Kong, including Jackie Chan, Henry Tang Ying-yen, Lau Wong-fat and Lau Ming-wai. Despite the fact that some of these individuals hold British or Australian passports, they pledge loyalty to China and often publicly criticize Hongkongers for not being “patriotic to China.”

There are also rumors suggesting that Keung Kwok-yuen’s exit was due to his refusal to pull the Panama Papers front page story.

Last year, Chong replaced the front page story, an exclusive Tiananmen massacre feature revealing eye-witnesses’ testimonies, with a story on Alibaba’s Jack Ma. Even though MPSA requested Chong to give detail explanation on his decision, which was made in the late evening, Chong only said that as the editor-in-chief, he has the power and responsibility to make such change.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published by The Real Hong Kong News.