Goodbye − A farewell letter to Hong Kongers

S1 Apple Daily Thursday, June 24, 2021

Goodbye − A farewell letter to Hong Kongers

There is so much to say! Let’s begin with 26 years ago then –

On June 20, 1995, the inaugural editorial of Apple Daily declared up front: “We belong to Hong Kong.” Born in turbulent times, just two years before Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese rule, Apple was like the rest of Hong Kongers who had chosen to stay despite an unclear future, filled with apprehension, but were still hopeful. We were resolute on not forsaking this land we called home. “We are afraid. But we won’t let fear overwhelm us.”

On July 2, 1997 [the day after Hong Kong’s handover to China], Apple splashed this on its A1 front page: “Hong Kong has faith in tomorrow.” Then barely two years old, Apple exuded the audacity of youth, its naiveté, its passion, its optimism. We believed Hong Kong could proceed with the realization of democracy in accordance with the Basic Law [the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s “mini-constitution” adopted by China pursuant to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration]. We believed that under the principles of “One Country, Two Systems” and “Hong Kong People administering Hong Kong”, civilized values and systems could be safeguarded, even expanded. We believed Hong Kongers could enjoy genuine prosperity and stability, human rights, freedom, and dignity.

Throughout the past two-plus decades, we have adhered to this conviction as we moved forward. But today, as Hong Kong has become totally unrecognizable, Apple, which belongs to Hong Kong, must now say goodbye to its people – with so much reluctance, so much pain.

Last Thursday, the regime raided our newspaper office a second time, seized a large volume of news materials, and arrested five senior executives, citing the National Security Law. Among them, Apple‘s publisher Cheung Kim-Hung and chief editor Ryan Law Wai-Kwong have been booked, charged, and jailed. Yesterday morning, lead editorial writer Yeung Ching-Kee was also arrested. Out of concern for employee safety and manpower considerations, Apple decided to cease publication and close down its news website. As of June 24, 2021, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily will be no more. With Apple‘s demise, press freedom falls prey to tyranny.

We salute our colleagues, our journalists, writers, and editors. In recent years, Apple has been besieged by evil forces everywhere. Colleagues have been targeted en masse and subjected to doxxing. Police raided Apple offices. Apple‘s owner and senior executives were arrested one after another and charged. Through it all, you have stood firm in doing your job, never missing a day publishing news. Even under the threat of white terror, you have pushed to the very end, working side by side to get the final edition of Apple Daily published and keep the news website running until the finish line. Brothers and sisters, I am proud of you. Apple‘s good fight has been fought. In the days to come, no matter where you will be and what posts you will be taking up, I trust you will continue to keep the faith in this founding mission and spirit of Apple.

To our readers and also Hong Kongers at large: Throughout the past week you have been cheering Apple along; constantly urging us to hold on, to hang in there; insisting “Hong Kong can’t be without Apple.” We at Apple apologize for having fallen short of your expectations. In the days ahead without Apple, we wish you all the best, and please take care. We wish you peace and safety all your life.

Finally, to our colleagues who have lost their freedom temporarily, we wish you an early release. We hope you will be able to rejoin your families very soon.

I am particularly touched by a recent cartoon I saw: an apple is buried in the ground, but from its seeds comes a tall tree full of even bigger and more beautiful apples.

Love you forever. Love Hong Kong forever.

[Signed] Chan Pui-Man