Stand News editor-in-chief steps down, signaling end of anti-govt media
Published: Nov 07, 2021 06:46 PM
Residents in Hong Kong protest Stand News' terrorism-promoting articles. Photo: File

Residents in Hong Kong protest Stand News' terrorism-promoting articles. Photo: File

Chung Pui-kuen, editor-in-chief of Hong Kong digital news outlet Stand News, announced he stepped down from the position for family reasons, local media reported on Sunday. Experts in Hong Kong said the decision was not surprising and signals the end of an anti-government media whose legacy is its infamous role in the social unrest in Hong Kong. 

Citing a post on Chung's social media account, Hong Kong news outlet RTHK said the deputy chief of Stand News, Patrick Lam, had taken over the position from November 1. 

Chung is also the husband of Chan Pui-man, who served as Apple Daily's former associate publisher. Chan was detained by the Hong Kong Police Force in June for allegedly colluding with foreign forces in endangering national security. The arrest came along as the police searched the Apple Daily's office and arrested its editor-in-chief and several other senior executives on suspicion of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces and froze HK$18 million ($2.3 million) in assets.

The secessionist tabloid issued its final hard copy in late June. 

"With the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong, the Hong Kong government has been stepping up efforts in managing the media and cracking down on fake news," Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

As some anti-China and anti-government media outlets stopped operating, the patriotic forces also played an active role in holding the rest of the anti-government media to account. "The survival room" for anti-government media outlets like Stand News got smaller and smaller, Lau noted. 

"It's not surprising that Chung made the decision to quit the job. It also signals that Stand News will come into an end," the expert said. 

The case of Chan will be mentioned on December 28. She remains in custody, according to Hong Kong media reports. 

For a long time, Stand News has been biased, failing to tell the objective truth. The outlet handled the news materials in an impartial and distorted manner, and tried to mislead the public, Willy Fu, a law professor and Vice-Chairman of Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"Stand News works in the same editorial line as Apple Daily, going against the country and creating chances for foreign countries to impose sanctions on the mainland and Hong Kong," Fu said, noting that under the national security law, many anti-government figures that had caused trouble have been held accountable or fled. 

Stand News previously published an article that openly advocated for "resistance" saying the armed resistance in Northern Ireland is not impossible to happen in Hong Kong, Ta Kung Pao reported in May, noting that Stand News also encouraged the black-clad violence and rioting. The article sparked controversies online and was criticized by many netizens. Stand News later deleted the article.

The resignation of Chung could also mean that he understands that the situation has changed, and is trying to shift the blame to others, Fu noted. "However, resignation does not mean he will escape criminal responsibilities if charges are brought against him."