A co-founder of the Hong Kong Economic Times (HKET) has stepped down from his top posts in the publication after taking back his remarks on extradition bill protesters that have been strongly criticized for being improper.
In a stock exchange filing on Tuesday, HKET Holdings Ltd. (00423.HK), the parent of HKET, said its board of directors earlier in the day approved the resignation of Arthur Shek Kang-chuen as associate publisher of the newspaper and executive director of the company with immediate effect, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Shek, who tendered his resignation on Monday “for the reasons that he wishes to pursue his other personal interests”, will remain as a columnist of the group, according to the filing.
Lawrence Fung Siu-por, chairman of HKET Holdings, said in the filing Shek “has confirmed that he has no disagreement with the board and there is no matter relating to his resignation which needs to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the company”.
On July 20, Shek called on those attending the pro-government “Safeguard Hong Kong” rally in Admiralty to take action against the extradition bill protesters, likening it to disciplining children.
He told the attendees to teach the young people joining the protests a lesson using rattan canes and water pipes.
Just a day after he made his remarks, a group of white-clad people charged into the Yuen Long MTR Station and used sticks, pipes and brooms to attack people wearing black shirts believing they were protesters coming back from an anti-extradition bill rally.
Dozens of people, including commuters and journalists, were injured in the incident that sent shockwaves across Hong Kong.
On Monday more than 800 HKET employees issued a joint statement to express their shock and extreme regret over Shek’s remarks.
They accused Shek of reneging on the duty of the press, which is to promote social justice, and demanded that he retract his words.
In response, Shek apologized for his remarks, noting that when he spoke of his “rattan cane” theory, the premise, when it came to self-defense, was to reject rather than promote violence.
Claiming that he did not know anything about the Yuen Long attacks in advance and condemning violence, Shek later retracted his “cane” comments and urged people from all sides to cool down.
The HKET group reiterated that it supports people in society to express their opinions in a peaceful, rational and non-violent manner and said its editorial policy has always been to be fair and impartial.
At the same time, it said it respects the right of Shek, who has been writing for a long time for the group’s publications, to freely express his views.
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