A pro-democracy news outlet in Hong Kong has decided to temporarily remove its older articles to prevent wasting donations from its supporters should it be subjected to a ban under the city’s national security law.
Stand News, an online media platform, made the move in the wake of the crackdown on pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, which culminated in the latter running its last print edition on Thursday.
One of Hong Kong’s most well-known online news media outlets, Stand News was founded in the aftermath of the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
The platform said that the articles removed are commentaries written by its bloggers and readers from May this year and last year.
Stand News said that the articles will stay off its website until it has assessed that it would be appropriate to republish them.
Noting that it has “enough money” to sustain its operations for “another nine to 12 months”, Stand News said that it will halt its monthly membership sponsorship scheme and suspend new donations.
“If necessary, we will seek help again from Hongkongers in future,” it added.
To protect its journalists, Stand News also terminated their contracts and compensated them with higher salaries than legally mandated.
“The vast majority of them have decided to stay – on new contracts,” said the platform.
Most of Stand News’ directors, including barrister Margaret Ng, singer Denise Ho and columnist Joseph Lian, have resigned from their positions following recommendations to do so.
Two founding directors, Tony Tsoi and chief editor Chung Pui-kuen, will stay.
Stand News said that it will continue to run in tandem with its editorial guidelines and will not set limits on its reporting.
The national security law is part of Beijing’s arsenal in what is widely perceived to be the stifling of dissenting voices in Hong Kong since the protests began in 2019.
Individuals convicted under the law face up to life in prison. The majority are denied bail after their arrest.
Apple Daily’s chief editor Ryan Law and Next Digital chief executive Cheung Kim-hun were arrested under the national security law “for collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security”, said Hong Kong police.
Its billionaire founder, Jimmy Lai, who is now serving multiple jail sentences for attending several pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong a couple of years ago, was charged last August after hundreds of police officers conducted a search of Apple Daily’s newsroom.
The law was also used to freeze Lai’s bank accounts and his majority shares in Next Digital, Apple Daily’s sister publication.
On Sunday, Fung Wai-kong, managing editor and chief opinion writer for Apple Daily’s English website, was arrested by Hong Kong police at the airport just as he was about to leave the city.
He became the seventh senior Apple Daily figure to be detained under the law.
While the police did not name Fung, who wrote under the penname Lo Fung, local media reported that he has been detained for investigation.