Ming Pao Daily journalists say executive chief editor Keung Kwok-yuen was a “victim of reprisal” after his surprise sacking on Wednesday, along with several other employees.
The staff union said it suspects Keung was dismissed because of differences with chief editor Chong Tien-siong over editorial policy, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Ming Pao Group earlier said it was forced to cut Keung and several other staff members because it was experiencing “operating difficulties”.
It said there will be no change in its editorial policy.
But newsroom employees said Keung and Chong often clashed over how stories should be edited.
Last night, they held a protest outside the newspaper’s headquarters in Chai Wan and put up posters with the word “unclear”, referring to the circumstances behind Wednesday’s events.
Meanwhile, eight media associations issued a joint statement in which they expressed shock and regret at the decision.
Keung was called to Chong’s office at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday and told that he was being fired as the newspaper was trying to cut costs.
Keung, a 30-year veteran in the Hong Kong media industry, has written articles critical of Beijing and supportive of human rights activists in the mainland.
He was invited to continue his Ming Pao column, sources said.
Chong, under pressure from the staff union, told hundreds of protesting employees that the decision was made in order to cut spending by 8 percent.
He blamed the situation on worsening conditions in the Hong Kong newspaper industry and the lackluster global economy.
Chong, who was appointed chief editor in 2014, said the choice had come down to between him and Keung.
He said he regrets Keung, whom he called his right-hand man, got the ax and that he is also prepared to leave if asked.
Ming Pao Group chief executive Tiong Kiew-chiong said the sackings were not aimed at any particular staff and were left to department heads, confirming Chong did the firings.
Ming Pao Staff Association wrote a letter to the board Wednesday night demanding that the sacked employees be reinstated and that it explain its plans for future cost cutting.
Ming Pao staff question chief over Tiananmen story call (Feb.3, 2015)
– Contact us at [email protected]