TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Less than a week after the Apple Daily’s Taiwan edition announced a takeover, the media organization applied to lay off 280 employees, reports said Tuesday (June 14).
The website announced June 8 that it had been successfully sold, but did not reveal details of the deal. Speculation focused on the Singaporean co-founder of social entertainment platform 17 Live Joseph Phua (潘杰賢) and on Hong Kong-based businessman Kenny Wee (黃浩) as the buyers, though there was never official confirmation.
Taipei City’s Department of Labor said Tuesday that Apple Daily had sent it a letter on June 10 announcing that it planned to lay off 280 employees on Aug. 9. Under prevalent legislation, employers have to notify the authorities 60 days ahead of time if they plan to sack more than 200 staff.
Some employees said they had not been officially told of the plans, as it was still hearsay within the company, CNA reported. If that is true, it would amount to a violation of the law by Apple Daily as employees also need to be informed of the layoffs beforehand.
The Apple Daily’s operations in Taiwan reportedly employ 300 people. The company stopped publishing a printed newspaper edition in May 2021 after 18 years.
As news of the sale became public, social activists and politicians expressed concern about the media group falling into the hands of Chinese government interests. The Taiwanese government said the relevant authorities would conduct a stringent review to monitor whether the sale of the Hong Kong-owned media complied with the law.
The original Hong Kong version of the Apple Daily shut down in 2021 as its assets were frozen under the new national security law that targets opposition to the CCP. The Taiwanese edition has continued to operate but as a financially independent affiliate.