Martin Lee SC leaves Ming Pao column empty to oppose editorial change

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 January, 2014, 11:58am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 January, 2014, 4:28pm

A pan-democratic legal heavyweight has left his column in Ming Pao blank to voice anger at the Chinese-language newspaper’s sudden replacement of its chief editor.

Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chairman of the Democratic Party, said he would continue to make use of his column in the 55-year daily to criticise the management’s decision to remove Kevin Lau Chun-to, until it stopped publishing his articles.

“Next time, I would not simply leave the column blank, but would berate them upfront,” the senior counsel told Commercial Radio on Monday.

On January 6, Lau informed his colleagues he was to be transferred to manage the company’s electronic books and teaching materials division, and that a Malaysian journalist would take his place at the paper. The decision comes less than two years after Lau was appointed chief editor of Ming Pao in 2012.

Lee described the paper’s rationale behind the change as “ridiculous”.

It was his turn on Monday, on a rotating schedule of seven contributors, to write for the daily legal column.

But the column is empty save for a headline that goes: “With black hands covering the sun and moon, the newspaper has lost its light.”

In Chinese, the characters for sun and moon together form the word ‘ming’ in Ming Pao.

Lee said he submitted his piece on Saturday and received support from newsroom staff members via text messages.

Editorial staff have formed a concern group demanding dialogue with the management as they see the sudden personnel change as a threat to editorial independence.