The Hong Kong Economic Journal has scrapped political activist Edward Chin Chi-kin's weekly column, leading the hedge fund manager to blast the move as a "political decision".
A core member of Occupy Central, Chin said the move to cut his column was "abrupt". Chin said he was told late last Friday that the half-page column he had penned since 2006 would be cancelled starting yesterday because of a planned new page design.
Chin said the real reason was clear to him. "About six months ago, I was told to write less about politics," he said. "Because of the political and economic situation in today's Hong Kong, there's no way for me to write only about finance in my column, since politics and economics are fundamentally inseparable."
The newspaper did not respond to an inquiry from the South China Morning Post.
In a statement released last night, the Independent Commentators' Association, which counts Chin as a member, expressed its "deep concern" over the newspaper's decision.
"It is not hard for someone to associate this 'coincidence' with 'political censorship'," the association said.
Chin said the newspaper's editorial stance changed after it was acquired in 2006 by Richard Li Tzar-kai, chairman of telecom giant PCCW and son of tycoon Li Ka-shing.
The association's statement quoted a response from Alice Kwok, the paper's chief editor, saying the HKEJ respected contributors' freedom of speech.
The Chinese-language newspaper - previously known for its in-depth analysis and bold criticism - has been accused before of squelching the views of its writers.
In March, Joseph Lian Yi-zheng, a former member of the Central Policy Unit think tank and the HKEJ's former chief editor who still contributes commentary to the newspaper, accused Kwok of deleting part of his article without his approval.
The commentary published last November concerned the government's refusal to grant HKTV a free-to-air broadcasting licence. The newspaper later said that it deleted a section - where Lian suggested that Beijing might have intervened in the decision-making process and that there had been possible collusion - because of possible legal risks.