Sing Pao owners blame ex-bosses for mess

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 May, 2006, 12:00am

The owners of the Sing Pao Daily News are blaming the paper's financial mess on the former management but vow to support staff and pay outstanding salaries and MPF contributions.

In a statement, Strategic Media International asked the journalists to be patient, saying it needed time to sort out the shoddy book-keeping of the managers, who resigned after the issue was revealed.

'Because of the [former management's] chaotic financial accounts, documentations and poor administration, the new management cannot answer to the appeal of its staff within a short time,' it said.

'But we promise to make solving the labour dispute the priority ... we will pay the unpaid wages and the MPF ... and review and improve our administrative and financial structures.'

The new management would investigate the incident and take legal action if any wrongdoing was found, it said.

The company said that since 2004, when it bought the 67-year-old newspaper, it had pumped in $100 million and was determined to solve the latest problem.

'All staff can relax. We will continue to support Sing Pao,' it said.

The Labour Department received four more complaints from Sing Pao's staff yesterday, bringing the total to 33 so far.

'No matter who the management of a company is, the employer is the culprit of any labour dispute,' a spokeswoman for the department said.

She said the department had interviewed the workers and the employer as it was gathering evidence to see if legal action against the newspaper would be taken. A decision would be made in less than two weeks, she added.

Operation of the newspaper was not affected by the 12 journalists who were staying away from work, assistant chief editor Kwok Yin-ling said. Eleven others have resigned.

The Mandatory Provident Fund Authority said it was preparing legal action against the newspaper for allegedly failing to pay contributions for the past four months.