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