About 270 former Ming Pao journalists have united with current editorial staff to sign a petition demanding that management promise to uphold the paper's journalistic principles after the removal of its chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to
Meanwhile Lau, editorial director and former chief editor Cheung Kin-bor and seven other top editorial staff are due to meet five members of the Chinese-language newspaper's executive committee today to discuss the incident.
The Ming Pao staff concern group said more than 10 units within the editorial department planned to boycott a general staff meeting proposed by management because the paper's parent company, Media Chinese International, was not sending any senior executives.
Former staff who have signed the Ming Pao journalists' petition include Andy Ho On-tat, a former information co-ordinator for ex-chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen; Frankie Yip Kan-chuen, former political assistant to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah; and Ming Pao's former executive chief editor Simon Fung Shing-cheung. Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling and Eva Chan Sik-chee, a senior lecturer at Chinese University who is also convenor of the Parents Concern Group on National Education, are also on the list.
The joint effort by current and former workers of the 55-year-old newspaper came after 90 per cent of its 270 current editorial staff members signed another petition demanding an explanation from the management for the sudden removal of Lau as chief editor.
Lau had informed staff on Monday that he would be replaced by a Malaysian journalist and transferred to manage the Ming Pao Group's electronic books division.
The ex-journalists who signed the second petition were worried the abrupt decision would mark the start of an editorial reshuffle, potentially linked to the investments the newspaper's Malaysian owner Tiong Hiew-king's had made on the mainland.
The Democratic Party also raised concerns, saying the sudden appointment of the Malaysian journalist to helm the newspaper was "unusual". It called on Hongkongers to back Ming Pao's staff and to safeguard the city's core values.