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Editor of SCMP turfed out after ex-Star chiefs move in

Sat 2011-Mar-5 @ +08 00:43:07 am

Reshuffle at South China Morning Post
• Reg Chua out as editor after tussles with Steven Tan, ex-Star boss
• Ng Poh Tip and Michael Aeria join Steven in senior posts

The editor of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Reginald Chua, is believed to have been forced out by the owner of the paper, billionaire tycoon Robert Kuok, who brought in Steven Tan, former boss of The Star, last year to help his family to reshape the paper.

Kuok bought the paper in 1993 from Rupert Murdoch, it is believed to please China and keep it in China-friendly hands. Kuok has extensive connections with China’s leadership and has been upset by reports in the Post critical of China.

Last year, Steven Tan, the longtime Star chief executive, joined the SCMP after tenure at The Star ended with the change in MCA leadership. (The MCA owns The Star and has a “golden share” giving it veto power over key decisions.) Steven has had a long friendship with Robert Kuok’s family, from his time as a Business Times journalist and later as boss of The Star.

The departure of Reg Chua, a Singaporean, came after several run-ins with Steven, it is believed.

Earlier this year Steven brought in Ng Poh Tip, who after retiring as chief editor had remained with the company as editorial adviser with supervision over the MCA-owned UTAR’s media studies programme.

She was recently joined by Michael Aeria, one of her successors as editor. Michael was later eased out into the paper’s new media division, in which he had already been involved in the development of its radio station and other broadcasting ventures and Internet activities. After retiring from the new media division, he was brought in late last year, as an adviser to help develop The Star’s offering for the iPad tablet by Apple.

The departure of Reg Chua is the latest in string of changes in the editor’s chair since Robert Kuok bought the paper. His first move was to recruit Jonathan Fenby from the Observer, with a promise of editorial independence. He left after a year, and there have been five other editors since.

Reg Chua had been editor of the Asian Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong before moving to New York where he rose to become deputy managing editor.
» see also Asian Sentinel report

  1. copperhead permalink
    Sat 2011-Mar-5 @ +08 21:54:59 pm 21:54

    Bringing old cronies such as Poh Tip and Michael Aeria on board SCMP is the biggest foolhardy move by Steven Tan. Mark my word this get-together for old time’s sake will backfire especially in an environment that’s totally different from Malaysia. Robert Kuok will regret his endorsement of this trio who had thought that The Star shot up in circulation because Poh Tip, Michael and Steven had done a remarkable job in Malaysian tabloid which is far from the truth.

    Some people who know this trio will be sniggering and waiting for them to screw up the SCMP eventually. They know the calibre of this trio. If anything, they must be one of the most sycophantic bunch of so-called journalists in Malaysia. There are so many better and untainted journos in the Asia-Pacific region and poor Robert Kuok has to put his money on this particular bunch. It’s a joke. But then Kuok has got enough dough to throw around.

  2. nstman permalink
    Sun 2011-Mar-6 @ +08 13:47:53 pm 13:47

    Steven Tan’s career will forever be linked to the Star’s rise to the pinnacle of Malaysian journalism and the destruction of the old order symbolised by a decaying New Straits Times. He was the David who took on the Goliath, that is the NST, and slew it. Is it? I think it is time we separated fact from fiction. The truth is, when Steven took over Star in the mid-1980s, NST was already in decline, wracked by mismanagement, indifference, opacity, lack of transparency and the need to suck up to Mahathir at the expense of losing readership. Against this backdrop, the NST circulation plummeted, exacerbated by Anwar’s humiliation and eventual evisceration. You dont need to be a rocket scientist to know that the Star, being the nearest competitor, was the obvious beneficiary of the void left by a sinking NST. So no surprises when the Star’s circulation rocketed to nearly 300,000 in the late nineties and NST’s dropped to 130,000 from 170,000, and later, to the purgatory of a mosquito rag. So there you are, any paper would have gone up at the expense of a self-imploding NST. You can say that the Star was at the right place at the right time. So was Steven Tan, who was certainly not a fool to turn down the largesse from NST head honcho Kadir Jasin. Now, he is doing what he did in Malaysia, making an ailing Post No 1 in Hong Kong. The embroidery of his ‘exploits’ makes good reading. But will Star’s so-called success story work in Hong Kong? Time will tell, but I believe they will ultimately be shown up and come back to Malaysia with a tail between their legs.

  3. lee permalink
    Sun 2011-Mar-6 @ +08 14:24:50 pm 14:24

    Seem like our country has got no new talents in waiting whether editorial or political, we always need to fall back on our over-recycled retirees to lead us ahead.I want to believe their words that this recycling exercises in politics,civil service or journalism is actually for our own good really. We Malaysians are so lucky.

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