On the day following the 26th anniversary of the Apple Daily, the board of directors of Next Media Group passed a letter to the Security Bureau by a large margin, requesting the unfreezing of some assets, and will meet again on Friday to decide whether the Apple Daily will cease to operate. It is reported that if the Security Bureau does not unfreeze the newspaper by Friday, Saturday will be the last day the Apple Daily will be published. The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) said that the press has long been “unstable” under the national security law, and journalists will have to “dance with shackles” in a limited space.
On the Sunday after the arrest of Apple Daily’s top executives last week, the newspaper celebrated its 26th anniversary, and on Monday, the office building became so cold that the company decided that part-time and trainee employees no longer needed to work, and that current employees could choose to ask to leave immediately.
The board of directors of Next Media held a meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss whether to close Apple Daily. The board approved by a large margin to write to the Security Bureau to request the release of some assets to avoid violating Hong Kong labor laws due to non-payment of wages, and will meet again on Friday to decide whether Apple Daily will cease operations.
Apple Daily” different groups issued a notice to the staff, that has been on the payment of staff salaries, requesting the Security Bureau to unfreeze, and this Friday as the dead line, and online news to Friday night 23:59 dead line, and indicated that if not unblocked by then, “Apple Daily” will be completed on Friday after the publication of the newspaper ceased to operate, in other words, Saturday will be the “Apple Daily” the last day to see the newspaper, the end of 26 years of history.
Apple Daily staff: “The situation is deteriorating faster than imagined”
Mr. Mak, who has worked at Apple Daily for a year, confessed that he was sad about the company’s situation and believed that the company was targeted by the authorities because of its political stance. Asked if the company could not pay its employees, he said he could only find another job, but for now he still hoped “to stay as long as possible.”
Mr. Mak: the news is slowly deteriorating, because before were frozen funds, at that time felt as if there was still enough money to operate for the time being, but after a few weeks, until today, we have to discuss the need to suspend the publication, the situation seems to deteriorate more quickly than imagined, but I think this moment can still stay here, the only way to stay as long as possible.
Hong Kong Journalists Association Chairman: Journalists can only “dance with shackles”
Hong Kong Journalists Association President Chen Langsheng told us that since the legislation of the National Security Law, the press has been “without risk”. He believes that although the provisions of the National Security Law gives the authorities the right to freeze assets, but the provisions write that the defendant must be convicted before the authorities can revoke business qualifications, but the case has not yet begun to trial, has been frozen assets, described as very difficult to operate.
Chen Langsheng: The most important thing for the news media is human resources and interviews. Human resources you also see, when the funds a stop, has not been able to pay salaries. If there are only a dozen employees, we can still call everyone to take the righteousness, but Apple has more than a thousand people, it is difficult for everyone to support. We can’t do that in terms of operation. (Interviews) It turns out that the police can pick up news materials at any time, who still dares to accept the Apple Daily interview?
He said that the press can only “dance with shackles” in a limited space, “it is impossible to do nothing, just waiting for official news”, can only do their best.
Mark Simon, aide to Lai Chi-ying, says the outside world can’t inject money into Next Media to solve the problem.
Earlier One Media founder Lai Chi-ying’s assistant Mark Simon said in an interview with Reuters, “Apple Daily” has no access to funds, and through the bank to deal with business is impossible, “the supplier tried to deposit money into our corporate account, but was refused by the bank,” describing the closure is He described the closure as “a matter of days” and a matter of time.
He also accepted an interview with CNN, mentioning that the legal documents submitted by Apple Daily to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange showed that the company had more than $50 million in cash, plus Apple Daily had a large number of paid subscription readers, and the company definitely had enough money to continue operations. He blamed the Security Bureau and the police freeze for making Apple Daily unable to pay its staff salaries and suppliers.
Mark Simon: When they are able to shut down the largest media in the democratic camp in Hong Kong, and the fact that we are probably the most sizeable newspaper in Hong Kong, the situation for other smaller media organizations will become much more difficult in such a situation. Basically if you try to push us down, we can still hire lawyers to protect our staff, but if even we are shut down, only God can help these smaller organizations, blogs, etc. that have been caught by the state security agencies.
He also revealed that some company employees are now receiving threatening phone calls from unknown sources, and some employees are beginning to fear for their personal safety.
Apple Daily has been published for 26 years and has accompanied Hong Kong people through many critical political moments
The Apple Daily was founded on June 20, 1995 by Lai Chi-ying, who is currently in prison, and has been around for 26 years. It has witnessed many critical moments in Hong Kong politics, including the handover of sovereignty in 1997, the opposition to Article 23 legislation in 2003, the Umbrella Movement in 2014, and the anti-China movement in 2019.
However, after the national security law came into effect, the authorities have repeatedly targeted Apple Daily. First, in August last year, the Hong Kong police arrested One Media founder Lai Chi-ying for violating the national security law and other crimes, and while the court was processing his bail, People’s Daily published two articles commenting on the case; in January this year, the Hong Kong police asked Apple Daily to provide relevant information in connection with the 47-member primary election case; in May this year, the Hong Kong Security Bureau, in accordance with the national security law, froze the shares held by Lai Chi-ying in One In May this year, according to the national security law, the Hong Kong Security Bureau to freeze the shares of the media, as well as its three companies owned by the property in local bank accounts.
It was once rumored that Apple Daily would be banned before July 1 this year. If the Apple Daily is not released by the Security Bureau by this Friday, the “no July 1” argument will be fulfilled, and the 26-year-old Apple Daily will finally be terminated on the eve of the first anniversary of the National Security Law.
The Hong Kong police took large-scale action last week, arresting five top executives of Next Media, conducting a major search of the newspaper’s premises and seizing press materials, and freezing the assets of Apple Daily Limited, Apple Daily Printing Limited and AD Internet Ltd. for a total of HK$18 million. Among the five arrested executives, One Media CEO Zhang Jianhong and Apple Daily editor-in-chief Luo Weiguang were formally charged and were denied bail after their arraignment on Saturday (19).