The pro-Beijing Sing Pao newspaper has carried another front page editorial criticising Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the China Liaison Office for “inciting” the Hong Kong independence movement.

In a front page similar to Thursday’s, the newspaper on Friday wrote Leung and the office “must take the blame” for the independence movement entering schools: “[they] became the promoters of Hong Kong independence.” The newspaper has been criticising them for the same reason since Tuesday, urging a Chinese disciplinary agency to investigate them.

The paper came under attack from other pro-Beijing newspapers on Wednesday and Thursday which claimed Sing Pao’s chairman was a fugitive involved in stealing funds from a mainland financing platform. Gu Zhuoheng, the chairman, has denied the claims.

Photo: Sing Pao/Apple Daily.

The Friday front page once again dismissed all attacks as smears, saying that – in exposing the Leung Chun-ying and China Liaison Office circle – the newspaper was “not afraid to speak the truth.”

“Stop suppressing freedom of speech, stop making threats, give peace and safety back to Hong Kong society,” it read.

Below the front page statements, it printed an editorial on the spread of Hong Kong independence movement in schools.

“All media focused on the ‘penny-sized’ localism concern groups in secondary schools, with massive coverage… the coverage was disproportionate to the importance of these ‘penny-sized’ groups,” it read. “The focus must be a result of the actions of Leung Chun-ying – who was supported by the Liaison Office – in the past ten-odd days.”

It said that Leung had used the same method last year in singling out the “completely uninfluential” Undergrad magazine, a publication of the University of Hong Kong Student Union which talked about independence, as it became widely shared after Leung’s criticism in his policy address.

Eddie Ng. Photo: GovHK.

It added that the student groups were mostly operating online since the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests, and they did not make much noise.

“But the way Leung Chun-ying and [Secretary for Education] Eddie Ng handled it was to pick up a grand blade to fight cockroaches… in order to turn society paranoid – it is a utter waste of energy,” it read.

The Education Bureau has warned that teachers may lose their qualifications if they advocate independence from China.

“Students are forming concern groups but teachers are warned – they are completely unrelated, but it shifted the focus of society from the re-election of Leung Chun-ying to independence movements in schools,” it wrote. “It is expected that Leung Chun-ying will use this method again in the future to a stronger extent, as he always gets his way.”

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.