Online news company prepared for potential raid

Top News | 23 Jun 2021

Pro-democracy online media company Stand News has made preparations for possible police raids of its Kwun Tong office but insists it would not change its editorial stance, says its deputy assignment editor.

Ronson Chan Long-sing, also the newly elected chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, made the comment after police raided another activist-backed news organization, Apple Daily, and arrested five of its senior executives under the national security law.

One of the arrested executives was associate publisher Chan Pui-man, whose husband is Stand News' editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen. Police also confiscated three computers from their Tseung Kwan O home, including one used by Chung, which sparked fears that Stand News could be targeted next.

Ronson Chan said yesterday he would not know if Stand News would be targeted under the national security law, though he believes staff are mentally prepared for any possibilities.

"But we will stick to our existing editorial stance and reporting style," said Chan, who succeeding Chris Yeung Kin-hing as journalists' association head.

Stand News was one of three companies named by pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions chairman Stanley Ng Chau-pei for "proactively encouraging or serving as platforms" for anti-China forces. The others are television broadcaster Cable TV and online news outlet HK01. Ng said "these media companies will only lead Hong Kong and themselves to their deaths."

He said Stand News has repeatedly criticized the freezing of Next Digital's assets that rendered Apple Daily unable to pay staff wages.

"They're trying to bury the truth that Next Digital and [founder] Jimmy Lai Chee-ying should bear the actual responsibility for endangering national security," Ng said.

He said he was also dissatisfied about Cable TV's news report on the Civil Human Rights Front not hosting the July 1 rally this year.

His Facebook comments came with a comic strip that showed the logos of Apple Daily, HK01, Cable TV, Stand News and creative media company 100Most in the landfill.

Media veteran and editor-in-chief of Citizen News, Daisy Li Yuet-wah, who worked in Next Media for 19 years, said the "red line" in the national security law has expanded into a "red sea."

Li added: "There is no clear indicator on what could be treated as illegal under current circumstances."

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said media companies do not have to worry about breaching the national security law as long as they are doing "normal" news reporting.

Cheng said the national security law will not apply to actions before its implementation on June 30 last year.

Separately, newspaper stall owners said sales for Apple Daily have increased in the last few days.

Stall owner Poon said all 70 copies at her Ngau Tau Kok stand sold out in an hour and a half.

A 26-year-old reader, Wong, said: "The recent incidents showed that the government is attacking freedom under the name of national security."

He said he would continue buying Apple Daily as a gesture of support.

Another Apple Daily reader who has supported it since 1995 said: "I think all is lost and I will never buy a newspaper again. Reading it is the first thing I do every morning, even when I travel."

Jane Cheung, Leung Pak-hei and Sophie Hu

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