Hong Kong media company Next Digital said on Friday that it will not cease operations, contrary to a human resources email on Wednesday that said the company would shut down this week.
Next Digital is the owner of Apple Daily, the top-selling pro-democracy newspaper crushed by Hong Kong’s puppet government last week.
The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) obtained an internal memo from Next Digital on Friday that “made clarifications” to an internal memo from Wednesday. Chief among those clarifications was that Next Digital is not, in fact, shutting down, which was the entire point of the Wednesday missive.
The original memo was very clear on that point. It said the company’s board of directors had decided to cease operations on Thursday, and were instructing their human resources department to “follow upon compensation for employees in accordance with the Employment Ordinance,” Hong Kong’s labor law.
The Friday correction said Next Digital’s human resources department is merely making some “personnel adjustments,” not preparing severance packages for all employees.
“Some firms or departments under this company are still operating,” the new memo said, not very encouragingly. It offered apologies for “sending a wrong message” that the entire company was about to close.
Next Digital certainly has some problems to cope with. Hong Kong police froze $2.3 million in Apple Daily assets when they raided the newspaper’s offices on June 17, seizing many physical assets like computers. Three Next Digital subsidiaries related to the Apple Daily brand have been charged with “collusion with foreign forces” under the tyrannical “national security law” imposed by Beijing last summer.
Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung, who was Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief, was arrested during the June 17 raid and is in custody awaiting trial for “collusion,” with a life sentence potentially at stake. The company’s owner, Jimmy Lai, was arrested for “collusion” in August and re-arrested while in prison so more charges could be filed against him.