A senior Hong Kong editor has been fired after publishing a story about how the city’s wealthy citizens and politicians are involved in the scandalous Panama Papers tax evasion scheme.
The Atlantic reports that Hong Kong senior editor Keung Kwok-Yuen was fired from Ming Pao, considered to be one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious newspaper publications.
The Hong Kong paper’s executive chief editor, Chong Tien Siong, implicitly warned Kwok-Yuen to “let it go,” effectively sweeping the massive Mossack Fonseca operation under the rug. But the senior editor did just the opposite, which resulted in his firing.
The prominent Hong Kong editor’s release included heavyweights such as former chief secretaries, wealthy property magnates, and the Rush Hour franchise actor Jackie Chan.
Hong Kong reporters and journalist have been facing this dilemma ever since the emergence of the Panama Papers: Do they uphold their journalistic integrity and report it or remain silent and risk being fired like the Hong Kong editor?
The Hong Kong editor was fired over releasing the publication Wednesday morning shortly after unions called out the paper’s chief editor in outrage.
“The union said in a statement it was ‘extremely angry’ about the decision and believed that Chief Editor Chong Tien Siong had used cost reduction as an excuse to “punish editorial staff who have different opinions.”
The paper’s CEO dismissed claims that the editor was fired for publishing the Panama Papers. Instead, he gave a rebuttal stating the editor was already targeted to be laid off for “financial reasons.”
Hong Kong, unlike the rest of China, actually has free speech and freedom of the press instilled into their Bill of Rights ever since the British gave Hong Kong back to China in 1997.
Many citizens, primarily journalists, fear that Ming Pao’s firing of one of their top senior editors could be a slippery slope towards the majority of China’s steep censorship laws spilling over into their city.
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The Inquisitr reported when Chinese President Xi Jinping was first named in the Panama Papers. The government official worked hard to ensure the censorship of the Panama Papers release among their citizens when the Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) exposed them.
On China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, users couldn’t even search the term “Panama.” Instead, you would be given results on importing fruit from Panama.
And search engines were even more restricted. The terms “tax evasion,” “file,” “leaked,” “Putin,” and “company” were all blocked.
Staff members of Ming Pao expressed their dissent to other members of the media outside of their place of employment on April 20, 2016, in Hong Kong.
Suspicion continues to rise regarding the Panama Papers layoffs. Kwok being fired over publishing the Panama Papers for “financial reasons” is just one of many of instances where that excuse has been perhaps too convenient.
What do you think of the Hong Kong editor being fired for doing his job?
[Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images]