Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper has enough cash on hand to continue operating as normal only for a couple of weeks, according to a person familiar, after authorities used a sweeping national security law to freeze company assets and arrest top editors and executives.
To continue print operations and pay staff, the quarter-century-old tabloid is planning on seeking relief through the courts and is also looking to use its Taiwan operation to manage digital donations through GoFundMe.com and PayPal, said the person, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of a police investigation into the company.
Executives are now examining the practicalities of keeping the newspaper running, including checking supplies of ink and paper in its warehouse, the person said. It’s unclear how the newspaper can pay staff and even whether regular suppliers and vendors will continue doing business with it, the person added, after local news outlet HK01 reported that authorities warned more than a half dozen banks not to deal with the company’s bank accounts.
The HK$18 million ($2.3 million) in Apple Daily assets frozen by police are only a small part of parent company Next Digital Ltd.’s HK$521.4 million in cash as of end-March, according to an exchange filing. But, the person said, it’s uncertain if the newspaper can access that cash given the various court orders and warnings to financial institutions to avoid handling accounts linked to alleged national security violations.
If Apple Daily’s print newspaper operation is shut down, the media outlet could continue publishing digitally from Taiwan while potentially paying journalist salaries via crowdfunding, the person said. Police have charged companies connected to Apple Daily, including Apple Daily Printing Ltd., with the same national security crimes as the individuals arrested this week.
Some staffers are concerned about getting paid and planning to leave for other jobs after the raid on Thursday, according to three reporters who asked not to be identified. They are also worried…