Tales of the Dark Days – IV
Recollections by some Star journalists of the days after the Shutdown
By Shah Adyll Dadameah
The day of the Star shutdown, I had been out at an MAS assignment in the morning. There was no inkling that I would be returning to a office that would be empty and silent for the next five months, a fate also to befall Watan and Sin Chew Jit Poh.
The first thought on learning that the Star’s KDN had been suspended was: would I be able to feed my family next month? But The Star was a magnanimous employer and continued to pay the wages.. albeit in dwindling phases.
I had no quarrel with the Government, nor with the Internal Security Act, Umno or the Chinese educationists for what The Star had to go through. From young I had learned that I have to be thankful to Allah in times of good and better. I tell myself there is ‘hikmah” (silver lining) behind anything that seems bad on the surface. So I continued to go to the office, try to pep up some spirit among the staff, listened to their plans and how they would tide through the troubled times ahead.
Looking back, I see that everyone went through those times of tribulations with a lot of courage, patience and determination: none became psychotic or traumatic zombies. Most, if not all, now lead successful lives with good careers, good homes and good friends, some making their home abroad.
We did go, and I promoted myself to the company as someone who could market the company’s corporate and public image.Not long after The Star closed, a direct selling person came to my house in Shah Alam and showed my wife a catalogue of ladies’ underwear. She bought a few items and I said to her, let’s go to the factory and get a job there.
I was game for an adventure, but the wife and kids were quite worried about starting a new life in Teluk Intan, Perak.
Not long after that, the company rented a house for us there and I was, once again, gainfully employed.
We were happy when The Star was allowed back and we could return to the Klang Valley, but we also felt sad about leaving Telik Intan, where I worked with a company of young people, and travelled extensively across the country to promote the company and its products and also visited embassies and high commissions to encourage export sales.
After returning to The Star, I stayed for about three years before I left, first to a now-defunct publishing company, and then to Teluk Intan again. I sold my Shah Alam house to buy one in Teluk Intan, which remains my “kampung” home.
There was a ‘silver lining’ to The Star’s closure, and I have not an iota of regret. Sorry, if there are those who do not feel the same.
Shah Dadameah was a member of the Star’s pioneer editorial crew. At the time of the Shutdown, he was chief reporter, after two years as bureau chief in Johor Baru. During the closure, he was corporate affairs manager of Caely Holdings, Teluk Intan. He is currently an associate editor at the paper.