I am no longer a regular reader of the SCMP, but I do sometimes buy it on Saturday. I'm not sure why, though. Yesterday, the front page of the 'City' section (Hong Kong news that is too dull to go in the main paper, plus features and sport) looked like this:
The top story was Concern mounting over pre-court tipples (shockingly, lawyers are sometimes to be found drinking at lunchtime), then there's Man's hand chopped off in attack at Mongkok restaurant (chicken feet are one thing, but I draw the line at someone else's body parts in my dim sum), and Authority restricts steroid use in treating Sars (maybe it's not such a good idea to give people high doses of drugs that might cause serious harm). Plus a court report about a 16 year-old who stabbed his pregnant girlfriend with a fruit knife, with the wonderfully droll line: "Turning to see her lover holding the bloodstained knife, she asked him why he had stabbed her." As I think we all would if we found ourselves in similar circumstances. An hour or so later she went to hospital for treatment, which gives you an idea how serious it was.
There was also a picture from the 'Miss Hong Kong' pageant, which means that thankfully I have managed to avoid watching it for another year. I did catch a few seconds of one of the irritating comedians being rude and patronising to one of the contestants, but that was all. How is this possibly a news story?
The dullest and funniest story is reserved for page three. It seems that someone has stolen a tree (worth HK200) from park in Kowloon City. Well, the story says that the tree is worth $200, but that property developers pay tens of thousands of dollars for good specimens, so I'm not sure what to believe. Surely it's worth whatever someone is willing to pay? I have an idea - perhaps the LCSD should start selling these trees if they only cost a couple of hundred dollars and are worth so much to property developers.
This is what makes the SCMP such an enigma. Is it a serious paper that prints important news and analysis, or is the equivalent of the Chingford Weekly Examiner running stories about lost dogs and stolen property? Well, given the relative priorities given to these stories, I think I'll go for the latter.