Cash-strapped Sing Pao Daily News was fined again yesterday for defaulting on Mandatory Provident Fund contributions. It has yet to settle fines for two similar convictions. Imposing a HK$135,000 penalty in Kwun Tong Court, Special Magistrate Chan Yan-tong said the 68-year-old newspaper had 'the worst company record', saying very few firms repeatedly failed to make the contributions. He criticised the management for 'talking nonsense' and being 'full of tiring empty talk'. The company has frequently pleaded for leniency, saying the newspaper is in financial trouble with internal turmoil rooted in management changes over the past few years. An unnamed administration officer, who represented the management, pleaded guilty to 24 charges of failing to pay HK$19,801 in MPF contributions to an editor and a reporter who resigned between November 2006 and December last year. The newspaper had earlier been fined HK$8,000 on two charges and HK$72,000 on 18 charges after admitting it defaulted on contributions for seven former employees during the same period. The officer claimed management had borrowed funds to repay four months of outstanding MPF contributions in late January. But this was used to settle late pay and annual leave payments for former employees at the Labour Department's suggestion. He said the management had the impression the department would liaise with the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority on the arrangement, which the magistrate described as 'nonsense'. Mr Chan said the management never fulfilled its promises to make the payments and eventually forced the department to seek legal means or orders to recover them. He was perplexed at why management would allow 'internal chaos' to occur again and again, and found it strange that it had yet to pay the previous or any of the MPF contributions. 'It is very hard to accept. I mean, all businesses face difficulty one way or another. But I don't see why the defendant has left its staff to bear the financial trouble, which the newspaper suffers, when as an employer, it should have protected its employees.'