Vitasoy employee fired after writing ‘unauthorized’ condolence note to HK police attacker
Published: Jul 07, 2021 12:23 AM
Vitasoy Photo: VCG

Vitasoy Photo: VCG

The employee of Hong Kong beverage company Vitasoy who wrote an internal memo offering condolences to the attacker of a Hong Kong police officer has been fired for releasing the "unauthorized note" with "inappropriate content," according to a letter that the company chairman sent to staff on Tuesday. 

In the letter the Global Times obtained from a Vitasoy employee who requested anonymity, Winston Lo, chairman of the Vitasoy Group, once again clarified the company's attitude on the police-stabbing behavior, saying it was "a deplorable act" that goes against Vitasoy's core values as a company. The attacker was a Vitasoy employee.

He said the condolence memo does not represent the company's view on the matter, and the employee who released the unauthorized note has been fired and already left the company. 

"The Group had been fully supporting and cooperating with Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong authorities' investigations on this incident in accordance with the National Security Law," read the letter, stressing that the company will always severely condemn violence and acts that undermine the security and stability of Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. 

The company's decision to fire the employee came after some Chinese fresh food e-commerce platforms removed Vitasoy drink products and the company encountered boycotts from customers and mounting criticism from netizens. Several mainland celebrities who previously endorsed Vitasoy products also withdrew their endorsements due to the company's internal memo.  

On Thursday, which marked the grand celebration of the centennial of the Communist Party of China and the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the Vitasoy employee stabbed a police officer and later killed himself in the Hong Kong street in a lone-wolf style terrorist attack. The 28-year-old officer sustained a punctured lung in the attack and remains in a hospital, according to local media. 

The Hong Kong Police Force has told local residents that mourning the death of the attacker is "no different from supporting terrorism," and the case has been taken over by the national security department.

Vitasoy released two statements in a row to show support for Hong Kong stability after the controversy arose.

The Chinese mainland has become the most important market for Vitasoy. Its revenues from the mainland market rose from HK$2.67 billion ($343.7 million) in 2017 to HK$5.01 billion in 2020, with the proportion increasing from 49.3 percent to 66.6 percent of its total revenue, according to financial reports released by the company.

Vitasoy International's shares closed lower at HK$25.90 on Tuesday. It lost nearly HK$3.7 billion from the market since Friday trading.

As of May, a total of 19 batches of Vitasoy beverages were refused entry by the General Administration of Customs (GAC) because of substandard labeling and excessive use of the nutrient fortifier calcium pantothenate, according to notices released by the GAC. 

Last year, 11 batches of Vitasoy drinks were also rejected by Customs for the same reason. 

"With that many unqualified products rejected by Customs, how dare Vitasoy say that it would provide nutrition for Hong Kong and the mainland?" Sina Weibo user Lanlingzihe asked.