Veteran press executive Arthur Shek resigns after controversy over ‘caning’ remarks at Hong Kong pro-police rally

South China Morning Post 發布於 2019年07月24日04:07 • Ng Kang-chung
  • Shek resigns from director’s position at Hong Kong Economic Times, which he co-founded, after urging rally attendees on Saturday to discipline protesters with force
  • After violence in Yuen Long on Sunday, newspaper’s staff sign petition of protest, prompting Shek to withdraw remarks and apologise
Arthur Shek at the ‘Safeguard Hong Kong’ rally in Tamar Park last Saturday. Photo: Twitter

A veteran Hong Kong executive has quit the leadership of the newspaper group he co-founded following controversy over his remarks that violent anti-government protesters should be caned.

Arthur Shek Kang-chuen, associate publisher of the Hong Kong Economic Times and executive director of the newspaper group, had his resignation accepted by the company's board on Tuesday with immediate effect.

In a public notice, issued by the group chairman Lawrence Fung Siu-por, the company said Shek, who handed in his resignation on Monday, "wishes to pursue his other personal interests". Shek will remain as a columnist of the newspaper group, according to the notice.

"Mr Shek has confirmed that he has no disagreement with the board and there is no matter relating to his resignation which needs to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the company," the notice said.

Pro-government supporters at the 'Safeguard Hong Kong' rally at Tamar Park last Saturday. Photo: Sam Tsang

The board thanked Shek for his "valuable contribution" to the company.

The news of his resignation came three days after he attended a rally, titled "Safeguard Hong Kong", organised by the pro-establishment camp to condemn violence during recent protests and show support for police.

Viral rumours and fake news risk further polarising city, scholars warn

At the rally, he called for action against those violent extradition bill protesters, likening it to disciplining children.

Lawrence Fung Siu-por, chairman of the Hong Kong Economic Times group. Photo: Oliver Tsang

"You should say no to those masked, black-shirted men. They have weapons, umbrellas. We can't use sticks. Do you have a cane at home? Get one, get a longer one," Shek told the crowds during the rally, which the organisers claimed 316,000 people had joined, while police said there were 103,000 people.

Coming protest, no faith in police lead to anxiety in Yuen Long

"What if you don't have one at home? Go to a metalware shop, buy a 20mm (diameter) water pipe, and teach your son a lesson."

Among those attending the rally included former justice minister Elsie Leung Oi-sie, former police commissioner Tang King-shing, former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, and prominent businessman Allan Zeman.

From left to right: lawmaker Junius Ho, former justice minister Elsie Leung, and actor Nat Chan at the 'Safeguard Hong Kong' rally at Tamar Park. Photo: Sam Tsang

But on Sunday night, as an anti-extradition bill protest march ended in violent clashes again on Hong Kong Island, a group of armed men unleashed ferocious attacks on commuters at the Yuen Long MTR station, sending 45 people to hospital.

Some of the attackers allegedly used canes to beat people.

It prompted a petition on Monday by Economic Times staff members against what they called Shek's incitement of the Yuen Long attack. Shek later offered an apology and retracted his "cane" remarks.

First chairman of Airport Authority Wong Po-yan dies, aged 96

Current affairs observer Chan Wai-keung, a lecturer at Polytechnic University, said: "I think Shek just meant to use a metaphor. It is unfortunate that it sparked a controversy and he was forced to quit. I hope this will not lead to a chilling effect on free speech."

Nixie Lam Lam, a pro-government district councillor who also attended last Saturday's rally, said she respected Shek for accepting accountability.

Neither Shek nor a spokesman for the newspaper group could be reached for comment by the time of publication.

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.