Digital news site Macau Concealers, backed by a major Macanese pro-democracy party, has announced it will cease operations, citing “unprecedented environmental changes” and “scant resources.”

The digital news outlet wrote on Facebook on Tuesday night that it would shut down on Wednesday after operating in the former Portuguese colony for almost 16 years. Macau Concealers thanked its readers for their support over the years, saying it had “done its duty” by safeguarding press freedom and presenting a “diversified view” of the city that neighbours Hong Kong.

Macau Concealers announces to cease operations on October 20, 2021. Photo: Macau Concealers, via Facebook.

“Because of unprecedented environmental changes and scant resources, the social media platforms of Macau Concealers will stop operating at midnight on October 20, 2021,” the news outlet wrote.

Its Facebook page was no longer accessible on Wednesday morning and its Instagram page was set to private. Its website “mcnews.cc” was also inaccessible. Its YouTube profile was intact, though has been dormant for six years.

Founded by members of the pro-democracy New Macau Association in November 2005, Macau Concealers was originally a satirical publication but later became a major local online news source. Its Chinese name was a wordplay on mainstream newspaper Macao Daily News, mocking what they saw as a pro-government stance.

Reports by Macau Concealers syndicated in Hong Kong online news outlet Stand News included the winding up of Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily in June and the ousting of 21 opposition candidates from Macau’s legislative polls in July.

‘Shocking and hasty’

The decision to halt Macau Concealers was “quite shocking” and “hasty,” its ex-deputy director Roy Choi told HKFP on Wednesday. The 34-year-old said the online media outlet, which had been financed by the New Macau Association, had insufficient funds after party member Sulu Sou was disqualified from the legislature. The ousting targeted the opposition camp, Choi alleged, including the affiliated news platform which had uncovered stories “unfavourable to the Macau government.”

Macau opposition lawmaker Sulu Sou closes his office after he was ousted from the legislature.

The Macau Concealers founder said it remained unclear whether the digital outlet faced any political pressure, but the team should have considered other fundraising methods before shutting down the “influential” platform, he said.

“To put it bluntly, now it feels like the outlet helped the government to get rid of something unfavourable [to the authorities]…” said Choi, who left Macau Concealers in June 2018 and is currently based in Taiwan.

The first draft of history

In an open letter published in Stand News on Wednesday, former Macau Concealers director Jason Chao and Choi urged the current director Kam Sut-leng to “take proactive actions” to save content published by the outlet and make the archive available online.

New Macau Association at a protest in Macau.

“News is the first draft of history. The content on Macau Concealers’ page, including interactions within the community, are of unique cultural and historical value…” the letter read.

“This can let future readers know that there was once a different voice in Macau,” Chao and Choi added.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.