Dear Apple Daily, you're the author of your failure
On Monday, the board of directors of Next Digital announced they had applied to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Security Bureau for unfreezing their funds and set Friday as a deadline.
In case they fail to unfreeze the funds, Apple Daily will suspend both its print and online edition starting Saturday.
They wrote their statement in such a way that it looked as if the Security Bureau's move to freeze their funds led to their situation. Yet anyone who with the most basic knowledge about the history knows that's not the case. It is the "creativity" of its own management that failed it.
For long, Apple Daily as a tabloid had been famous for causing trouble with entertainment stars and being involved in their lawsuits. As early as 2008, the star singer Joey Yung suffered from Apple Daily's attacks so much that over 200 of her fans sent messages to Apple Daily as a protest.
In 2010, Taiwan entertainment star Dee Hsu and her husband sued Apple Daily Taiwan branch for fabricating news of their domestic violence and won the case one year later.
In 2012, film star Zhang Ziyi sued Apple Daily in Hong Kong and won the case in 2014. These are only a small number of lawsuits involving Apple Daily, and the huge compensation it had to pay in these cases was a heavy enough burden for the tabloid.
Apple Daily suddenly turned political in 2014 and incited violence in the illegal "Occupy Central". It was already found that Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, its founder, mobilized money from the US and helped to spread it to participants in the illegal activity, a trick he repeated in the 2019 riots.
Even after Lai was arrested, people speculated on stock prices of Next Digital to obtain illicit profits in September 2020, which led to the local police in Hong Kong arresting 15 suspects. The suspects who speculated on the stock sold it at a high price and exited the market. That was an entire loss to ordinary shareholders of Next Digital.
The suspension of its Taiwan edition in May already explains the results of the bad management which Apple Daily must face. There is no way to push the responsibility to the Security Bureau. Further, according to Wen Wei Pao, top Apple Daily executives even tried to avoid paying their ordinary staff their deserved one additional month salary, which means even Apple Daily staff are victims of the organization.
Of course, the Security Bureau has the power to decide whether or not to unfreeze Next Digital's funds. But even if that happens, the issue of Apple Daily as a professional rumor mill will still be sorted out by the market.
It's just a matter of time.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @zzxang86