The Ming Pao newspaper on Thursday said it has decided to pull a decades-old comic strip by the political cartoonist Wong Kei-kwan, better known as 'Zunzi', from Sunday.
Ming Pao didn’t give an explanation, but thanked Zunzi for bearing witness to the changing times throughout the past 40 years.
His cartoons have been repeatedly criticised by a number of government departments in recent months for allegedly twisting facts and smearing the authorities.
In the most recent case, a Zunzi cartoon published on Tuesday about the revamp of the district councils was condemned by the Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs, Alice Mak, who said the strip was misleading and distorted the government's proposals.
Security chief Chris Tang said the newspaper’s editors were being responsible by taking something they did not want to be used to make false or misleading accusations against the government off their platform.
“If some people think they have a special status that they can control or occupy some media or platforms to recklessly use false, misleading allegations to smear the government and incite hatred against the government, we must speak up, clarify, and condemn, so that people are informed,” Tang said.
Zunzi told RTHK that Ming Pao's decision to pull his comic strip is part of today's "Hong Kong story", and added that "there is always a way to move forward even when the road is rough".
The Ming Pao Staff Association expressed regret over the suspension and thanked Zunzi for his contribution to the newspaper since the 1980s.
In a statement, the association said columnists’ work is part of Ming Pao's "core values", adding that it hopes society will allow different voices and respect freedom of speech.
Tang also hit out at a statement made by the Hong Kong Journalists Association, which said the incident shows that criticism is not allowed in Hong Kong and the room for freedom of speech has further narrowed.
The minister said the government accepts criticism, but they must be based on facts.
Last updated: 2023-05-11 HKT 20:42