IT SEEMS like sheer madness to enter the highly competitive newspaper market, but Jimmy Lai Chi-ying, who defied market wisdom to do just that eight months ago, is not alone in being prepared to take the risk. Pollster Citi Hung and political commentator Raymond Wong Yuk-man are making separate plans to launch new dailies, despite the fierce newspaper price war that has led some titles to fold in the last few months. But Mr Hung and Mr Wong are not quite as ambitious as Mr Lai. They see a market among a small but well-defined readership. They believe that if you can offer good commentaries and good news analysis, the demand will be there. While Mr Hung is still putting his thoughts together and is more cautious about revealing his plans, Mr Wong, known as a China-baiter, is ready to launch his product which is anything but conventional in style, form and approach. Mr Wong, who has dubbed himself a mad dog, wants his paper, scheduled to be out on sale next month, to be a tough, crazy watchdog. That is why he has called the paper the Mad Dog Daily in Chinese and adopted the Watchdog Daily for its English title. It is a broadsheet paper to be filled with highly critical commentaries, news analysis, racing and entertainment news. Initial investment will be small, totalling about $5 million to $6 million and the target readership is expected to be confined to a small circle with a circulation of around 30,000 copies a day. Staffing levels will be low - totalling 15 to 16. Mr Wong said the paper would be sold at $5 and he has worked out that if he can sell about 15,000 copies a day, he will break even. The newspaper price war has not put him off, he says. In fact it has persuaded him to bring his plans forward. 'I was on holiday in Vietnam while the price war broke out. 'My friend called me up and told me about the closure of the Express and the United Daily and all of a sudden I had a very strong urge to do something, and the decision to launch the paper was made in only three hours,' said Mr Wong, who originally planned to start the paper after 1997. 'I sat down in my hotel room and started to draw the dummy and that's how it all came about,' he said. For Mr Wong, the failure of the Chinese-language press lies in its stale and boring outlook. 'All the papers are so homogeneous, can you tell me what's the difference between those mass-circulation popular papers?' As Mr Wong sees it, there is a lack of critical commentaries and proper news analysis. He wants to offer something fresh, something that makes readers think. Subjective journalism will be a main feature of his paper. There will be no straight forward news reporting, a practice followed by almost all the local press. All the key news stories in the Mad Dog Daily will be injected with the writers' interpretation and commentaries will be highly critical, in keeping with the Mad Dog title. 'I want to inject some new ideas in the local newspaper industry, but I won't try to be crazy for its own sake. 'The paper won't make things up for the sake of criticising people. 'There will be value judgment in this paper, but there won't be personal attacks,' said Mr Wong. 'I am sure there will be feedback of all sorts and I am fully aware of the need to set aside large funds for legal fees.' Mr Wong, the host of a number of successful television and radio programmes, has earned his fame and popularity through his anti-communist stance. But he stressed his paper would not focus on antagonising China. 'I don't see any need to deliberately create an impression of being anti-China and make the anti-communist stance a selling point,' he said. But that said, it does not mean that China can feel at ease over Mr Wong's new venture. Although no one has yet to put any explicit pressure on him, Mr Wong has already heard of rumours that printers might have reservations about taking his business even though those he has approached have not yet officially turned him down. As a fall-back option, Mr Wong said he would not rule out the possibility of investing in his own printing presses if the business was doing well. He says he plans to straddle 1997 with the Mad Dog Daily. 'If there's any problem now affecting its survival, it's for me to answer. 'But if it has a problem surviving after 1997, it's not for me to say. 'This paper is registered under Hong Kong law and anyone who thinks that it's unfit for publishing after 1997 has to give me a good reason,' he said. 'But I don't think China will do anything to me now, they will keep an eye on me, monitor what I do and gather information about this paper. 'Those who should be more worried about my paper's critical stance are local politicians and the Preparatory Committee members, those flunkeys in Hong Kong will be my primary targets,' he said. The outspoken commentator stopped all his newspaper columns and television and radio appearances last October when he was charged in a wounding case. He pledged then that he would put his career on hold until the case was resolved. That case is scheduled to be heard on March 18 and Mr Wong has tentatively set the launch date for the Mad Dog Daily for the same day. 'I think this is good fun. If the court convicts me, it's news and if I am proved to be innocent, it's also news,' he said. Mr Wong wanted his paper to be based somewhere special. Its offices are in the newly redeveloped premises at the old Ming Pao site, where that paper's success was established and where its boss Louis Cha's fortune was made. The media personality said he had no doubt there would be a demand for his paper when it first came out. He believes this will be due mainly to his own popularity. Newspaper hawkers and his fans have kept asking him when his title will be launched and foreign news agencies have interviewed him about the venture. 'There's enough noise level in publicising the launch of the paper. 'It is more a question of whether you can keep the readers two or three months later,' he said. Unlike Mr Wong who plans to test the market and can pull out any time without huge losses, Mr Hung, the managing director of the Hong Kong Polling and Business Research Company, is thinking of giving his paper more time to create a niche in the market. He shares Mr Wong's belief that he can aim at a small, well-defined readership. He is sure there is a demand for high quality commentaries and good in-depth news analysis for informed readers. While Mr Wong's product will appeal to a wider market, from racing fans to those wanting analysis of the news, Mr Hung is targeting the elite. 'The paper will be something for top business executives and political figures,' he said. 'You don't need a very big readership. 'In my plan, the circulation would not be more than 20,000 copies,' he said. Mr Hung said Louis Cha's Ming Pao also started off as a small-circulation paper and it proved to be a huge success. He is confident history can repeat itself.