Fugitive Hong Kong tycoon sues tabloid Next Magazine over report he and his partner exited funeral by back door
- Libel claim seeks damages over online article and accompanying video
A fugitive Hong Kong tycoon is suing a local tabloid magazine after it reported that he and his partner had to leave the funeral of late property magnate Walter Kwok Ping-sheung through a back door.
The online article published on Next Magazine’s website on November 1 also suggested that Joseph Lau Luen-hung, former chairman of China Estates Holdings, and his partner, Chan Hoi-wan, turned up at the farewell ceremony of the founder of Sun Hung Kai Properties without making any prior registrations, according to a writ made available on Monday.
Law firm Sit, Fung, Kwong & Shum, which filed the court action on Lau’s behalf, said the tycoon would claim “damages for the publication of libel, including aggravated and exemplary damages, in respect of defamatory words” carried in the article and in an accompanying video.
The writ named Element 5 Digital Limited, which runs Next Magazine, as the defendant. Known for its provocative style, the magazine is a sister product of newspaper Apple Daily, which is owned by Next Media group.
The amount of damages has yet to be specified.
The lawsuit also seeks to prevent the Chinese-language weekly from further publishing the content in question.
Titled “[Walter Kwok Ping-kwong’s funeral service]/Strict security measures/Senior Lau holding hand with Kimbie (Chan Hoi-wan) to attend without prior registration/Left from the back door”, the article no longer appeared on the company’s website when the Post tried to access it at Monday midday.
Next Magazine publisher Louise Wong Lai-sheung said she would refer the case to lawyers, adding: “I believe we reported the truth.”
Lau became a fugitive from the law after he was convicted in 2014 by a Macau court for his part in a bribes-for-land scandal involving a business partner and former Macau public works chief Ao Man-long.
Lau was sentenced to five years and three months in jail in absentia, but remains free in Hong Kong because of the lack of a rendition agreement between the two cities.
The article in question was published the day that Kwok’s friends and relatives gathered at St John’s Cathedral in Central to bid farewell to the 68-year-old real estate mogul, who died on October 20 after spending two months in hospital following a stroke.
Lau was among a number of tycoons and influential figures who attended the service.
Among them were eight pallbearers: Hopewell Holdings chairman and managing director Gordon Wu Ying-sheung; Sino Group chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong; Great Eagle chairman and managing director Lo Ka-shui; CK Hutchison Holdings chairman Victor Li Tzar-kuoi; sports sector figurehead Timothy Fok Tsun-ting; Henderson Land Development Company vice-chairman Colin Lam Ko-yin; real estate sector lawmaker Abraham Razack; and businessman Lincoln Soo Hung-leung.