Editor says sorry for election mistakes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am


The chief editor of Sing Pao newspaper apologised and blamed himself yesterday for 'rookie [editing] mistakes' that twisted the opinions of a respected commentator on Sunday's chief executive election. It had raised concerns that Beijing was meddling in election coverage.

Veteran China-watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu wrote in his commentary last week that neither Leung Chun-ying or Henry Tang Ying-yen were suitable candidates. His story in the Chinese-language daily was turned into an endorsement of Leung, and ran in the March 22 edition under the headline: 'Out of the two, [I] would rather choose Leung Chun-ying'.

In yesterday's Sing Pao, chief editor Ngai Kai-kwong apologised to Lau and the public, saying: 'Over the past few days, I have been reflecting in deep pain why a veteran journalist with 30 years of experience would be so careless to make this kind of rookie mistake.' His comments were published on the newspaper's front page.

He said he was busy when a colleague handed him Lau's article on March 21, and he mistook it for a side-bar story to run with a news article.

Ngai said he 'did not know how' he could have mistaken a commentary for a news sidebar story.

'I heard that there were some problems with the writing style, so I asked a colleague to fix it. I myself changed the title specifically.' Lau's original headline had been: 'Neither Tang nor Leung is worthy of support.'

Ngai said he did not know about the mistake until Lau called him the next day, when he apologised to Lau 'solemnly'. The newspaper published the original story and headline the following day, March 23.

Lau, also a veteran journalist, said Ngai's explanation of the paper's operation sounded 'unusual', since columns for feature sections - where his piece was published - usually do not require the chief editor's attention.