Hong Kong’s broadcasting watchdog said it received about 7,000 complaints over local station TVB’s broadcast of “unverified, biased and misleading” remarks from lawmaker Ng Leung-sing on the five missing Causeway Bay Books staff feared to have been abducted to the mainland.

At a Panel on Security meeting at the Legislative Council on Tuesday, Ng quoted a message from “an old friend” as saying: “the five bookstore guys were rumoured to have taken illegal boats to smuggle themselves into the mainland to frequent sex workers. They were arrested by Chinese police on the scene separately, and videos were taken as proof.”

In their subsequent newscast, TVB reported that “lawmaker Ng Leung-sing said he received information that the missing individuals were arrested in mainland for allegedly visiting prostitutes.”

The TVB newscast on Ng Leung-sing's comments.
The TVB newscast on Ng Leung-sing’s comments. Photo: TVB screen capture.

The Communication Authority received 4,000 complaints as by 5pm on Tuesday—a number which grew to 7,000 the following day. A spokesperson told Apple Daily that the majority of complaints said the news was “unverified, biased and misleading” and made personal attacks on those concerned.

TVB CEO Mark Lee Po-on later told Ming Pao that he did not feel the station did anything wrong.

On Wednesday, Ng apologised to the wife and family of Lee Bo, one of the missing booksellers.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.