The Ming Pao Staff Association has said that preparations will be made to escalate their protest following a refusal by newspaper management to reinstate former executive chief editor Keung Kwok-yuen. Association Chairwoman Phyllis Tsang Kam-man threatened “industrial action” on Wednesday, a week after the respected editor was suddenly fired following a report on the Panama Papers leaks.

Tsang said that, during the latest meeting with company management, the Association requested that the dismissal be overturned but their request fell on deaf ears, RTHK reported.

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Ming Pao Staff Association Chairwoman Tsang Kam-man. Photo: Ming Pao Staff Association, via Facebook.

Tsang also stated that company management promised the Staff Association that budget targets had been met and there would be no further dismissals from the editorial department, but it failed to make specific commitments, Ming Pao reported.

“The response we have gotten from the company is that they will improve internal communication but… we have not been given tangible promises or commitments. Therefore, the Association has decided that we will make preparations to escalate our protest. We hope that the company can give us a comprehensive and clear response,” she said.

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“Not clear and not open.” Photo: Ming Pao Staff Association, via Facebook.

Keung was known for his weekly long-term analysis column in the newspaper under his pen name On Yu. On the day of his dismissal, Ming Pao carried a front page report on the Panama Papers.

The dismissal of Keung has drawn much controversy and criticism from the Staff Association, lawmakers and media unions alike for what has been perceived as an act of editorial censorship. Columnists and cartoonists at the papers have been publishing blank columns in the paper for the past several days in protest of the dismissal.

Isaac Cheung is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. During the Occupy Central protests, Isaac worked as an editor and reporter at LIVE: Verified Updates, a bilingual news page founded and maintained by HKU journalism students. He has also worked at Coconuts Hong Kong as a reporter.