Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai resigns as chairman of Next Digital

Lai (centre) leaving the Hight Court after being granted bail in Hong Kong on Dec. 23, 2020. - AP

HONG KONG (Bloomberg): Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who was charged earlier this month with colluding with foreign forces under the city's new national security law, resigned as chairman of Next Digital, the company he founded said in a filing on Tuesday (Dec 29).

Lai, 73, tendered his resignation "in order to spend more time dealing with his personal affairs", according to the statement.

Next Digital said Mr Ip Yut Kin would replace him as chairman.

Lai has also resigned as executive director.

The pro-democracy activist is currently on bail. Lai is a prominent critic of Beijing and Hong Kong’s authorities, while his Apple Daily newspaper has vigorously championed the city’s protest movement.

Prosecutors in Hong Kong charged Lai earlier this month under the national security law imposed by Beijing in June, saying he had colluded with foreigners by calling for sanctions against China.

The city’s High Court later granted Lai bail of HK$10 million (S$1.7 million) last Wednesday, confining him to his house and barring him from giving interviews or posting on social media.

Lai will be unable to travel and required to report to police three times a week under the bail terms, according to Apple Daily.

The state-owned People’s Daily slammed the court’s decision as “unbelievable, ” according to a commentary in the mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party on Sunday, warning that there are legal grounds for the authorities to transfer the case to the mainland.

Lai faces his next bail hearing on Thursday before Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

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