RIP Jacob Paul, the ‘Quiet Man’

1947 – 2013

After spending almost half his working life putting the paper to bed, Jacob Titus Paul goes to his final rest today, having succumbed to lung cancer on Monday at the age of 66.

He is survived by his wife Doris, and their sons Byron, 36, and Alexander, 32.

Former colleagues remember him as a man wedded to his job, never leaving until the final edition was gone; those less charitable remarked it was his way to ensure no one would be in a position to challenge him.

Jacob began as a reporter with the Malay Mail in the early 1970s before being transferred to the NST. After postings to Kota Baru and Johor Baru as the bureau correspondent, he returned to Balai Berita, and was moved to the Subs Desk, from where he was to be promoted to Chief Sub-Editor and later Production Editor.

He ended his career as assistant group editor, retiring in 2002 but continuing on contract until 2009. While on contract, and no longer one of the big bosses, he sat among the senior sub-editors at the production row, quietly checking final proofs of the leader, letters and opinion pages, Business Times and news pages, quietly cracking jokes with other contemporaries. His presence at the evening news conference was tolerated by courtesy although he was no longer part of the executive heirarchy.

• The cortege leaves the family home in Bandar Utama for the funeral service at St Ignatius Church, Kelana Jaya, at 2.30pm today.

The Quiet Man of Balai Berita

Alan Rashid
Former chief sub-editor, editor of New Sunday Times

Jacob was a very private person at work. As Chief Sub, and later Production Editor, he led the Subs Desk through some of the more difficult times of the NST, a period which saw a seemingly never-ending procession of revamps to ramp up sales. The pressure on him during those times, and during more ‘normal’ periods, was tremendous, but he rarely showed it, nor the frustration he must have often felt.

He may have come across as a hard task-master, but I think that was due to his strong sense of responsibility to lead the Subs Desk to deliver what it had been tasked with. I remember he once issued me a warning letter for dereliction of duty! I learned my lesson the hard way.

As I got to know him better through the years, I realised that what we had sometimes taken for aloofness was basically shyness, and that he had a warm heart. He gave his professional life to the NST; I hope the NST remembers him.

Kek Soo Beng
Former Seremban bureau chief, assistant news editor

My recollection of Jacob dates back to some 40 years when we were both young reporters with the New Straits Times. Then, and as in later years, he was a man of few words. Behind that demeanour ran a sense of humour and fun. The twinkle in his eyes spoke it all.

Philip Lim Chin Guan
former Chief Sub-Editor
Jacob Paul had been a friend and an office colleague for decades. He is the most hardworking chief sub and later production editor I have ever come across. He would work right through the first edition and followed through with the final edition until about 1.30am. He actually didn’t have to, but he did it for years.

Most people who knew Jacob know that he is a man of few words. His family always came first. For years, he would call home at a certain hour every night, while he put in about 11 or 12 hours, to speak to his sons and ask about their well-being or homework.

After observing this for years, one night I told him that he was a great father.

Not many people understood Jacob’s personality but he really had a soft side that he almost never showed others. I caught glimpses of that soft side on several occasions and after a while I came to accept the fact that he didn’t want to show people that he had a warm heart. In 1997 when my dad died, he drove all the way from KL to Ipoh to attend the funeral. I have never forgotten his kind gesture and show of respect for my family.

Philip Matthews
Former news editor of Malay Mail and NST; later group editorial manager

For a man of letters Jacob Titus Paul was a man of few words. That’s not a contradiction as those who knew him will testify. Just as he was economical with words when editing copy he was also economical in the things he would say.

As a newsman he was a wordsmith, weighing carefully words, phrases and sentences to see if they conveyed the intended message. He applied the same standard in his interaction with real people. He said what he meant and meant what he said.

In the old days before the advent of digital devices, the newsroom in Balai Berita was often noisy and chaotic, with typewriters going ‘clack clack cling’ all day long. Tempers were sometimes short when deadlines drew close. In that mayhem, Jacob would never lose his cool.

He spoke in measured tones, offering a helping hand to rookie eporters struggling to finish stories without the aid of a spell or grammar checker.

Married to his job, Jacob Paul belonged to that breed of journalists to whom nothing mattered more than a story well told.

some comments by former colleagues at Facebook

K.H. Lim
While he was Chief Sub he would often asked me “over” (from the News Desk) to do the extra shift subbing after my newsdesk duties.

Danapal Govind I will never forget this gentleman with the soft voice. I really got to know him very well during JB days.

K.C. Boey Did anyone ever hear an utterance from him above the earlier clatter of typewriters, and even after the advent of the relative clicks of the computer keyboards? Bless Jacob’s example to community and journalism.

Aishah Ali Jacob was such a lovely colleague.

Cheryl Dorall How could one forget the Quiet Man of the NST newsroom?

Eddie Chua He was the man who gave me my first byline in NST when I was a rookie. He was the CSD, the gatekeeper, then. Getting a byline was really difficult then, you had to earn it. During my years in NST, Jacob would always watch out after me, guiding me every now and then, commenting on how I should write… I am lucky to have had a friend and a mentor like him.

Patrick Lim
You were a wonderful friend in the years that I knew you, and especially when you were my chief sub. A very humble, gentle and soft-spoken man, full of smiles.

comments by colleagues quoted by the NST

Jacob’s former boss, P.C. Shivadas, remembered him as a meticulous newsman. He added that Jacob was also proud of both his sons, who managed to build their own successful careers.

Jacob’s former colleague, Vijayan Menon, said the former assistant group editor was a workaholic and a man of few words. He added that Jacob would come into office by lunch time and would not leave until NST’s late edition went to press at 2am. “He never lost his cool or raised his voice. He was firm, but gentle and he was well-liked,” Menon said.

NST executive editor (production) David Christy, who joined the company 17 years ago, described his former boss as his mentor. “He was stern and stoic but above all, a kind man,” he said.

Former NST assistant group editor Jacob Paul dies


Removed reference to Henry Paul, no relation

One thought on “RIP Jacob Paul, the ‘Quiet Man’

  1. Jacob was a kind, sweet man. I worked on a couple of revamps of the NST features section with him. He was always supportive, and jokey when the mood took him. He was a good person to work with.

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