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Ming Pao columnists protest over sacking of chief editor by leaving blank spaces

Columnists writing for Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao have left blank spaces in the paper in protest over the sacking of an editor amid fears of creeping censorship.

Four columnists left spaces allocated for their copy empty yesterday, in protest of the removal of chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to, who is soon to be replaced by Singapore-based Malaysian Chong Tien-siong.

Lau is believed to have been sacked for repeatedly leading the newspaper with stories about HKTV, a television station that was not granted a free-to-air broadcast licence at the end of last year.

Blank spaces were left in the newspaper as many staff believe the abrupt replacement of Lau is a move to censor the newspaper.

In response to the publication of blank ‘protest’ spaces, Ming Pao, which is owned by Malaysian logging tycoon Tiong Hiew-king, has appointed the editorial director, Cheung Kin-por, as chief editor until Chong’s work visa is cleared.

Chong is expected to start work as chief editor on Ming Pao in two weeks’ time.

Cheung told The Standard newspaper that Tiong has always upheld press freedom, and that there would be no change in editorial direction.

Among the four columnists to leave their slots blank were commercial radio host Li Wei-ling and Ng Chi-sum.

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