A Hong Kong newsmaker is chosen each month by HKFP. Keung Kwok-yuen, the former Ming Pao executive chief editor who was fired last month, has been chosen for April 2016. 

Keung Kwok-yuen is a former executive chief editor of Chinese-language daily Ming Pao. He is a veteran journalist with 30 years of experience in the field, and has previously worked at TVB and Apple Daily, among others. Aside from his editorial roles, Keung was known for writing a long-term analysis column in the newspaper every Sunday using his pen name On Yu.

Keung was fired by Chief Editor Chong Tien Siong last Wednesday – the same day the paper published a front page story analysing the Panama Papers and the Hong Kong politicians and businessmen named in the documents leaked from a law firm.

According to the newspaper’s management, Keung was terminated out of a need to “save resources” and “cut costs” in a “difficult operational environment”. However, the Ming Pao Staff Association were extremely angered by the move and questioned whether the decision was in actual fact made to “punish staff members who have different opinions on editorial issues”. It also criticised the termination for being “not clear, not open”.

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

A group of seven media unions including the Hong Kong Journalist Association also released a statement expressing concern and questioning the decision. Following Keung’s termination, many Ming Pao columnists have submitted blank columns in protest.

Ming Pao printed three empty columns on Sunday April 24.

Media unions said that Keung was responsible for the newspaper’s editorial direction and was perceived by many staff members to be the “soul of the team”. They also said that firing Keung “heavily damaged the morale of Ming Pao editorial staff”.

Former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to said last month that he felt “shocked and saddened” at the decision. He said that Keung, with his rich experience and knowledge, was a good partner of his who earned the respect of the staff working for the newspaper. Lau also said that after he was attacked, Keung kept the staff together and upheld the quality and reputation of the paper.

Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.