Hong Kong newspaper Sing Pao calls police after senior employee’s home splashed with red paint

Police say they are paying great attention to recent harassment and pledge to provide protection to affected staff

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 7:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 9:20am

Chinese-language newspaper Sing Pao Daily News called the police on Sunday after the home of a senior staff member was splashed with red paint as the recent harassment against the publication intensified.

It was the fourth time the newspaper had called the police since February 19, after the newspaper’s editorial staff spotted suspicious people following its managing staff and lingering near their office in Kwun Tong and their homes.

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Among those shadowed was chief editor Lau Mei-yee, the Post learned. A police source said earlier that Lau had filed a report on February 19 about threats to her personal safety . She also called on behalf of the newspaper.

On one of the occasions, a picture of at least one staff member was posted near an employee’s home. The newspaper said it thought the picture was taken from a home return permit, the travel document that enables Hong Kong residents to travel to mainland China.

The newspaper said late last week that it received a large number of nuisance phone calls and emails containing computer viruses directed at certain employees.

In the latest incident on Sunday, red paint was sprayed outside the home of a female senior staff member.

Leaflets with intimating messages were also posted at her home.

The Post learned from a source that police would provide protection to senior staff. A police spokesman confirmed the security arrangement on Sunday.

A police source said multiple senior staff members were covered by the arrangement.

The Kowloon East regional crime unit has taken over the investigation of four recent cases.

They are the case on Sunday morning, the sighting of suspicious people reported on February 19, leaflets being posted near a senior staff worker’s home reported on February 21 and a large number of nuisance phone calls and emails directed at certain employees reported on Friday.

The force spokesman said: “Police are paying great attention to these cases … and will provide appropriate protection according to the needs of the people concerned.”

In a statement on Sunday, the newspaper “strongly condemned” interest group(s) involved in the city and mainland China over suspected use of triad gangs to intimidate staff in a bid to disturb the chief executive election.

“[The groups] used such extreme violent and base acts to make sure the candidates they like would be elected.”

Lawmaker James To Kun-sun said the action had seriously violated press freedom and was a challenge to the law enforcement ability of the police.

He urged police and the government to face up to the incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The long-time pro-establishment newspaper, whose chairman Gu Zhuoheng is allegedly a wanted man in mainland China, raised eyebrows last year when it began running critical articles about Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong.

It has recently accused the liaison office of interfering in Hong Kong’s leadership contest, criticising it for backing the city’s former No 2 official, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Critics believe Sing Pao’s change of tone is the result of fissures within the Beijing leadership.