The management of Ming Pao is standing by the decision to terminate former executive chief editor Keung Kwok-yuen, but Chief Editor Chong Tien Siong apologised “if anything was inappropriate” regarding Keung’s termination.

However, Keung told Ming Pao “I think that this apology is very sloppy, and it didn’t say clearly the real reasons behind the crude termination. I cannot see the sincerity, and cannot accept [this apology.]”

Keung was fired on April 20 – 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. The paper claimed that Keung’s dismissal was a cost-saving measure.  On Monday hundreds of protesters including reporters, reporters, activists and public figures demonstrated against Keung’s termination.

Keung Kwok-yuen.
Keung Kwok-yuen. Photo: United International College.

Ming Pao’s management said in a statement Thursday that it “will not rescind and has already completed” the termination of Keung. The newspaper bosses also “commit that [they] will not lay off employees in this fiscal year.” They promised that they would communicate with employees and the Ming Pao Staff Association to increase the transparency of personnel matters before making any important decisions about terminations or saving resources.

After meeting with management on Thursday, the association said “We agree that the management has the sincerity to solve the problem and understand the staff’s concerns. At the meeting, the management agreed that the handling of the incident could be better, and the Chief Editor Chong Tien Siong expresses regret for the termination incident.”

The association also said they would continue communicating with management.

New editor

Ming Pao’s management also announced that they would be appointing Leung Heung-nam to replace Keung, after accepting the recommendations of the editorial department. Leung was a former vice-executive chief editor at Ming Pao

Li Wei-ling, a radio talk show host, said in her column in Apple Daily: “I have worked with both Leung Heung-nam and Keung Kwok-yuen and the way they treat news, their conduct and morals towards news, even their simple and low-key character are very similar. So instead I have a question: If the management cannot accept Keung Kwok-yuen, why would it accept Leung Heung-nam?”

Li Wei-ling
Li Wei-ling. File

“I don’t know if the association asked the management this: What is the difference between Leung’s salary and Keung’s salary? Saving resources!” she added.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.