Hong Kong media chief Siu Sai-wo said he has taken legal action against the Apple Daily newspaper over its reporting of his comments following a meeting with China propaganda chief Huang Kunming.

Siu, chief executive of the Sing Tao News Corporation, quoted Huang as saying during a meeting with Hong Kong media executives that the city’s news organisations should not “become a base for interfering with mainland politics.

Several media outlets reported Siu’s quote, which was broadcast live on air, on Tuesday. But the news outlets later deleted or amended their reports of Siu’s comment, including TVB news, Commercial Radio, the Hong Kong Economic Journal and the Hong Kong Economic Times’ online platform TOPick.

Siu Sai-wo Sing Tao
Sing Tao CEO Siu Sai-wo. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

In a statement printed in Sing Tao Daily on Friday, Siu said: “A report by Apple Daily on October 18 that involves me contains defamatory content. I have taken legal actions demanding the newspaper retract its report and apologise.”

The statement did not say which report it was referring to or explain the grounds for the case.

apple daily next digital
File photo: inmediahk.net.

Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Law Wai-kwong told Stand News that he had received a lawyer’s letter from Sing Tao. He said the letter singled out a report on rumours that the original articles were taken down or removed after the China Liaison Office ordered Hong Kong media outlets not to report on the meeting.

Confusion over quote

Siu’s refusal to clarify his original comment since Tuesday has led to confusion.

On Wednesday, Siu had issued a statement saying that after his meeting with Huang on Tuesday, he took questions from reporters and later gave out a written version of his responses.

Siu said he hoped the two versions had “basically the same” meaning, but the written form should be preferred in case of discrepancy.

YouTube video

Siu’s written statement was not available to the public, but Sing Tao Daily later reported that Huang’s comment to media executives was: “under one country two systems, [you] must prevent external forces from turning Hong Kong into a base for interfering with the mainland.”

On Thursday, Siu declined to clarify the original wording when speaking to reporters, but denied that he had misquoted Huang.

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.