Not The South China Morning Post

Wally Wilde
April, 1999
April 9th 1999                WHAT'S IN A NAME?

While the rest of the world has been anxiously watching America's dirty little undeclared war on Yugoslavia, since 1 March this year when the regulating legislation was liberalised, Hong Kongers have been obsessed with the local "mobile phone war", in which the various service providers battle to outdo each other with special offers to coax subscribers away from the competition. This has generated some pretty weird stuff: bewildering TV ads featuring rioting mobs, salesmen giving out free noodles in the street and causing near-real riots, and huddles of people in offices, shops and restaurants debating interminably the relative merits of each network, its service packages and the available handsets.

OK, in Hong Kong weird is normal, but it is well known that people here are very sensitive to interpretations of names, so why on Earth did one of the biggest market players, Hutchison Telecommunications, having invested squillions in a mass-advertising campaign for its new network, decide to give it such an inauspicious brand name? The name? Zero range.
April 15th 1999                 Our explosives expert Wally Wilde reports

One of the World's Great Toilet Papers    
Tuesday's Internet edition of the South China Morning Post � the face it presents to the world on-line � revealed the embarrassingly low professional standards to which it has sunk under the leadership of Jonathan "Mail-Bomber" Fenby and his sad team of tabloid-trained news hacks.  The subject of its front-page lead, as "updated at 7.03pm" was a shock-horror piece about the bombing of the Jusco department store in Tuen Mun. In a very shoddy piece of journalism, readers were told:
(a) that "about 300 grams of high explosives had been stuffed into a tin can";
(b) that "police experts" had said the bomb "'could have been a firecracker type'" with a delayed fuse".

Now, first of all, there is a huge difference between 300 grams of high explosive (or HE, as we "experts" call it) in a tin can and a firecracker, which is gunpowder packed in a paper roll, as anyone who has stood close enough to a detonation (as opposed to an explosion) and survived will appreciate. Secondly, the use of the word "delayed" when referring to a fuze* is redundant. A fuze, by definition, is a delayed-ignition/detonation device.

Moreover Superintendent Ricky Hung, the incumbent Tuen Mun Divisional Police Commander, was referred to as "Commander Hung". Commander is a naval rank.
[Hack hint No. 362: Look at the funny silver bits on their shoulders; a crown means superintendent.] Why, oh why (sorry... couldn't resist that) do the Post's tired hacks persist in using the lazy blanket term "expert" to describe anyone with a specialised area of knowledge or practice? Why not "explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer", "forensic pathologist", or whatever? Do they really believe their readers are no smarter than they are?

To really make my week, all I need now is a follow-up story in tomorrow's paper featuring my all-time favourite Post-hack clich�: "In the wake of Tuesday's bomb blast�"
Fortunately, the Tuen Mun Police District Commander, Ian Seabourne, was quoted saying "the authorities had 'serious leads'." So the cops may have some clues. But the Post remains clueless as ever.

[*To avoid potentially fatal confusion, we "experts" distinguish between an electrical fuse and a pyrotechnic fuze, as both may be encountered in the course of bomb-disposal work � a distinction that might be profitably adopted by Post hacks, not to mention Jusco�s security guards.]
April 26th 1999                            BURN BOBBY, BURN!

Interestingly, on 17 April, the South China Morning Post carried a brief report from news agencies in Singapore that fires in Sumatra, which last year blanketed the island and much of its neighbour Malaysia in haze, were once again burning.  The report mentioned that last year's haze had caused "staggering health and tourism losses in Indonesia and the region" and that the fires "could have been started by plantation and logging companies".

By some strange oversight however, the Post neglected any mention of its owner, the shady Robert Kuok. Kuok is a shareholder in a South Sumatra oil palm plantation owned by Hashim Djojohadikusumo and his sister-in-law, Titiek Prabowo, the second daughter of Indonesia's disgraced former dictator Suharto and wife of General Prabowo Subianto, the head of the hated and repressive Kopassus military command.