The House News
18th January 2014
Leung Pressures Standard Chartered to Withdraw Advertisements from Apple Daily
The House News reported on 14th January 2014 that three major Hong Kong (non China backed) banks HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of East Asia suddenly withdrawn most if not all of their advertisements from Apple Daily. Sources revealed that CY Leung and his pro-China advisers have asked some “middlemen” to urge major corporates to withdraw their advertisements from some newspapers in order to pressure the media that have been criticising the government and the China government. The major banks that are not China backed but place a large amount of advertisements in Apple Daily receive “extra attention” from the government. Those who refuse to accept this “request”, CY Leung’s government will give them the cold shoulder as a “punishment”.
The source also said that because Standard Chartered did not cooperate with the government on withdrawing their advertisements, CY Leung refused to meet with the bank’s visiting executives last year in Hong Kong, and has not promised to attend the annual Standard Chartered Marathon this year as the event’s guest of honour.
The source said that Standard Chartered’s board of directors choose to host their meeting in Hong Kong, and planned to arrange the bank’s Chairman and other senior executives to meet with the Chief Executive. However, to the bank’s amazement, Leung refused to attend. The source said, “(we) understand that this is not just an empty threat, (the government) takes this seriously and wants us to yield.”
In response to The House News’ enquiry, the Chief Executive’s Office denied that there is any political reasons behind Leung’s refusal to meet with Standard Chartered’s executives. The Office has yet to reply if Leung’s delay in responding to the Marathon’s invitation is an attempt to intimidate the bank into cooperating with the government politically.
According to an article by 唐凝 (Tong Ying), a contributor to The House News who receive insider information from contacts within the political scene in Hong Kong, as soon as Leung took office, he began to ask many banks in Hong Kong not to advertise on one newspaper. However, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of East Asia have ignored his demand. In order to “teach those banks who refuse to obey a lesson”, Leung has ordered that no government officials should attend any activities organised by these three banks, just like the order he gave to the officials not to attend the anniversary event of the Liberal Party. Until the end of 2013, all three banks coincidentally pulled their advertisements from Apple Daily.
Standard Chartered responded to the enquiry that the bank will not comment on market rumours. The bank also said that the Marathon this February will invite a number of government officials to officiate and present prizes at the event, as usual. When asked if the invited officials will be attending, the bank said that it would respect the officials’ arrangements.
HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of East Asia, the three major non Chinese banks in Hong Kong, have suddenly pulled most if not all of their advertisements in Apple Daily, and this remains the same as of this month, and looking unlikely to change in the first half of 2014. A source said that the banks claimed that this is the result of the change of their advertising strategy, but another source within the banking sector admitted that the withdrawal of advertisements from Apple Daily is a non-business related decision made by the senior management.