The most vocal pro-democracy newspaper of Hong Kong named Apple Daily said on June 24 that it would publish its last edition after a tough year in which the executives were arrested, and the media house was raided by the police. Its owner and many employees were jailed under the national security law.
The closure of such a popular tabloid marks the end of media freedom in Hong Kong, said the critics. Apple Daily, in an article online, said that they are thanking all readers, ad clients, subscribers, and people of Hong Kong for providing them love and support for 26 years. They bid goodbye and said to take care of themselves. The support of Apple Daily for freedom and democratic rights was hampering Beijing’s side since its owner Jimmy Lai was smuggled from China into Hong Kong on a boat when he was 12 years old. The silencing of the pro-democracy voice shows the determination of China for greater control over Hong Kong.
Reasons for its Closure
In June 2020, Beijing implemented its new security law even after much protest and criticism. The law curtailed the freedom of speech, said, critics. But China said that the law would bring stability. After few months of implementation of the law, Jimmy Lai and several other media figures, as well as activists, got arrested. The officers of Apple Daily were raided. However, the paper did not step back, and in fact, it doubled down while accusing police of misusing their power. For some time, it seemed like the paper would continue even though its founder was arrested with a long string of charges.
In an interview, Lai stated that he would not fear, and it is the cheapest way to control by inducing fear. But on June 17, before the 26th anniversary of the paper, police officers raided the Apple Daily headquarters and froze its assets due to the violation of the national security law. Officials arrested the chief editor and other executives. The company accounts froze, due to which the paper can no longer conduct its daily operations or pay its staff. The announcement of the closure of Apple Daily followed a board meeting that witnessed one of its journalists getting arrested.
An adviser to Lai, Mark Simon, said that the meeting was held to decide the Apple Daily’s fate. The police disruptions influenced the outcomes as they wanted to make sure that the paper gets closed as soon as possible.