Hong Kong Chinese newspaper Oriental

Hong KongAs common as Hayley’s Comet, in Hong Kong, the defamation jury trial appears about once every 80 years. So although this particular decision was some months ago, I don’t think I will be around in 2093 for the next one, so I had better report on this one quick.

The story in itself is unusual. For starters, the Oriental Daily News, a Hong Kong daily with a circulation of around 110, 000 (and probably the defendant in the last defamation case in 1933), was in this case, a plaintiff. What happened was this.

On 28 September 2001, Ma Chiu Sing phoned police and told them that he had put poison into cup noodles that were on sale in a certain supermarket. Police went there and discovered one such item with poison. On that same day, the Oriental Daily News got a letter written by Chiu Sing, who referred to himself as the “Hong Kong Bin Laden”. The letter said that he had poisoned the food and told police of its location and he demanded the resignation of certain public figures, otherwise he would poison more food and tell no-one where it was. The letter said:

“And the poison will not be kid’s stuff like this time. The locations of the poisoning next time may be in restaurant, may be water heater in canteens and etc… One person, ten persons, or one hundred persons may be killed next time…”

Similar letters were sent to other daily newspapers. He then phoned a journalist at the Oriental Daily News and said he was annoyed that his letter did not get more publicity. Later that day he called back and said he had poisoned some chocolate in a city supermarket and he wanted the threat to be reported. The poison was found.

The first plaintiffOn 2 October 2001, Chiu Sing’s reign of terror ended. He was arrested and in December 2002 he was convicted at trial, where he got 6 years and 8 months jail. He was released from jail in June 2006 and in the 2 months following, he sent 5 threatening letters back to the Oriental Daily News, leading to another conviction, this time for criminal intimidation in June 2007. He got a further 9 months in jail and was released from jail on 15 March 2008.

Around one month after being released for a second time, Chiu Sing mounted a demonstration outside the High Court Building. He wore a cap, dark glasses and a surgical mask. He had a banner with him, which was in Chinese and said this:

“Is there still rule of law in Hong Kong?

Wrongful imprisonment! Bribery! Contract Killing!

Since I, Ma Chiu Sing was discontented that the founders of the Oriental Daily News, Ma Sik Yu and Ma Sik Chun, despite being members of a narcotics trading family and having caused harm to countless people and are on the wanted list, could still get off scot-free and enjoy the rest of their lives and pass their fortunes to their descendants. I had thus submitted an article to the complaint column of Oriental Daily News …… To my astonishment, Oriental Daily News and members of the Ma Family such as Ma Ching Kwan did not deal with the relevant complaint by lawful means, for instance, if they considered what I stated to be fabrications, they could have commenced a civil suit against me. Instead, not only did they fail to handle the matter by such means, they went so far as to fabricate a blackmail letter for 5 million to frame me up.”

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