Stand News articles removed, directors resign

The pro-democracy web media, Stand News, on Sunday said it’s decided to stop accepting monthly sponsorship from readers and shelve older commentaries for now, saying “speech crimes” have arrived in Hong Kong.

The moves come days after another pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, was forced to fold following an asset freeze because of a national security probe.

Stand News also said it’s temporarily removed commentaries written by its bloggers and readers from May this year and before, until they’ve decided that it’s appropriate for the news platform to publish them again.

In an announcement made on Sunday night, the news platform said it didn’t want to waste the donations from supporters in the event that it gets banned.

So, it will soon stop its monthly membership sponsorship scheme, and suspend receiving donations.

“We have enough money to run for another nine to 12 months. If necessary, we will seek help again from Hongkongers in future,” Stand News said.

It’s terminated the employment contracts of its journalists to protect them, and compensated them with pay higher than legally required. The vast majority of them have decided to stay – on new contracts.

The platform also said most of its directors, including barrister Margaret Ng, singer Denise Ho and columnist Joseph Lian, have accepted recommendations to resign.

Two founding directors, Tony Tsoi and chief editor Chung Pui-kuen, will stay on, and the news outlet will continue its editorial guidelines, saying it will set no boundaries for its reporting.

Stand News, which was founded after the Umbrella Movement in 2014 – is one of the most popular online news outlets in Hong Kong.

In July that year, months before the protests broke out, Tsoi had abruptly closed down House News, a similar news platform he had founded in 2012.