8pm June 26
Tropicana Golf & Country Club
» Google Groups or » Facebook group
(Both are private groups)
A bunch of Balai Berita old fogies are gathering for a reunion dinner next month at Tropicana golf and country club in Petaling Jaya. It’s organised by former Malay Mail-NST journalist Ayesha Harben and a circle of friends. The dinner is hosted by an anonymous benefactor. Ayesha won’t say who.
Many former NST journalists have gone on to successful careers in business, among the most prominent of whom are Munir Majid and A Kadir Jasin. Other NST alumni from the business and operations sides, such as Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah, Cyril Pereira and Jauhari Yahya, have gone on to successful careers in publishing, power generation and conglomerate building.
Munir, now chairman of Malaysia Airlines, became editor of the paper after Noordin Sopiee was removed by Mahathir Mohamad for some inoffensive slight. Munir was removed in turn after Mahathir got upset about some other small thing. Kadir Jasin became group editor in the mid-1980s and was the longest-serving since the company was Malaysianised. One of the Gang of Four in the management buyout of NST on behalf of Anwar Ibrahim, he was later eased out into Berita Publishing, which he bought from NSTP for RM1.
Other Balai Berita journalists, like Ayesha herself who runs her own PR outfit, have found success mostly in public relations, media relations, event management or publishing. Rose Ismail, who was managing editor, founded Salt Media. Monica Voon, a pioneer Business Times journalist, went on to run Burson-Marstellar, before setting up on her own. Former women’s editor Leong Thong Ping left for the family business and founded the successful Mayfair boutique and Mayfair line of clothing. Another women’s editor, Millicent Danker, set up her own PR outfit after a career in Petronas. Hannah Abisheganaden, daughter of news editor Felix, runs a foodie event management firm, KH Lim set up his own PR outfit, Joe Carlos does golf event management, Yamin Vong turned publisher with motoring publications, Ishak Nengah is a sought-after MC and PR man, and the two Ali sisters Aishah and Saleha provide publishing and other media services. And Lat of course stands on his own, without or without a newspaper.
There’s no money to be made in journalism proper, but it can lead to successful careers outside journalism. Critics who howl for blood and demand that journalists leave the press should ponder on the loss of talent.