Ming Pao’s executive chief editor Kwok-yuen Keung was suddenly dismissed at midnight Tuesday with immediate effect.
Keung’s dismissal coincidently came hours after Ming Pao published several reports about Hong Kong businessmen and politicians were named in the Panama Papers, which worried its staff members and Human Rights Monitor.
The company issued a statement saying it "had no choice but to take on cost-cutting measures” during “tough times”, adding that Ming Pao’s “editorial policy remains unchanged”.
The statement also said the staff cut included employees from both the editorial and business departments, as well as senior staff.
The paper’s staff association said it was extremely angry about the decision and accused the principal executive editor Tien-siong Chong of using cost-cutting as an excuse to sack Keung.
A group of seven media unions said they are “deeply shocked” by the sudden firing of Keung. The media unions said the reason given by the newspaper’s management was “far-fetched”.
It also came as local media companies struggled to survive. Earlier this month, Sing Tao News Corporation announced a pay cut of up to 20% for its senior news executives.