May 25, 2016 — On Tuesday night, I had a pleasant surprise when I received the following email from the letters editor of the South China Morning Post. I’ve redacted the author’s name, but the letter is otherwise complete.
Dear letter writers,
I am writing to tell you that this is my last week as letters editor of the South China Morning Post as I am moving to Australia at the end of April.
Thank you for a wonderful year editing your letters. I have been keeping track of many regular correspondents since I took this job, and now have more than 170 on my list (which I will leave to the next letters editor). Some of you write occasionally; some of you are such faithful correspondents, I would recognise your letters if you left them unsigned.
Looking back (if you’ll excuse my sentimentality, but I’m going to miss this page), you’ve taken on – or defended – Beijing, George Bush, Hong Kong society and its government, our columnists and other readers. Letters to the Editor has been quoted in the British House of Lords and by opinion-page writers. You’ve prompted stories and other letters. You get government ministers leaping for their quills in self-defence and officials trying to explain. You exercise your precious and important right to free speech, here on the edge of mainland China, with eloquence and enthusiasm.
You have been well read. Wherever I go these days, people tell me how much they enjoy the letters page, or mention letters or correspondents they remember. Someone last night said she hoped the page would not lose its “feistiness” when I’m gone. I like that description, but if the letters page is feisty, it is because of your insights, wittcisms and criticisms.
I regret that there are still so many of you I did not get the chance to meet and that there has never been enough space to publish more of your letters.
All the best and keep writing to the South China Morning Post.
Letters editor (for one more week)
What’s so great about this letter? For starters, it’s written by a real person, not a corporate drone, who made me feel good about contributing to the letters page. But the best part is that the thanks is both sincere and totally unexpected.
Note: A pleasant surprise was published on March 14, 2007, and updated on May 25, 2016.