Apple Daily apologises to Exco's Franklin Lam
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper on Monday apologised for an erroneous front-page report, in which it wrongly quoted scandal-plagued Executive Councillor Franklin Lam Fan-keung saying he discriminated against new immigrants.
In its apology, the Chinese-language newspaper admitted that its reporters had made the mistake by failing to catch the word “not” in Lam’s sentence, part of a speech he gave at private seminar last Thursday.
The Apple Daily report, published on Sunday, quoted Lam as saying in Cantonese at the seminar: “I do discriminate against new immigrants”.
Lam denied having made the discriminatory remarks and expressed regret at the report.
At a press conference held on Sunday afternoon on a housing survey conducted by a youth group, he replayed a tape recording covering the segment of his speech to show what he had actually said.
The recording showed a voice of Lam saying: “I do not discriminate against new immigrants at all. After they arrive in Hong Kong, legally they have become Hong Kong people, Hong Kong first-class citizens.”
Soon after Lam’s denial, Apple Daily withdrew the report in question from its website.
Apple Daily chief editor Cheung Kim-hung said in its Monday apology that he had listened to the tape recording and admitted the paper had made a mistake.
Cheung said the word “not” was uttered too softly to hear, and the mistake was due to its reporter’s listening problems and negligence.
“Even so, it is a mistake, and we have to apologise,” he said.
Lam said during Sunday’s press conference that he had advocated for allocating more resources to helping new immigrants publicly.
Lam has been on leave from the Executive Council, the government’s top advisory body, since he was embroiled in controversy over the sales of his two flats in Mid-Levels.
The sales took place just a few weeks before the government announced the imposition of a stamp duty late in October to cool the housing market, raising doubts over a possible conflict of interest.