Old fogies of the English-language press gathered in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday in prayer as well as good humour to remember two of their own, the late Zainon Ahmad of the New Straits Times and The Sun, and Jacob Paul of NST.
The National Press Club held tahlil prayers for Zainon at the Sime Darby convention centre in Bukit Jalil while later in the afternoon family, friends and former colleagues attended a funeral mass for Jacob.
Zainon died in March of liver cancer and Jacob on Monday of lung cancer.
As is usual when newsmen gather — sadly, these days among the 60s-80s generation it’s more often than not at funerals — there was reverence and much irreverance and frivolity as old comrades joshed and joked and poked fun at each other, without mawkish sentimentality: inured as they are by their jobs to years of exposure to death and suffering and the gamut of human emotion.
Zainon’s career and his presidency of the National Press Club, which has had its fair share of ups and downs, were recalled by A Kadir Jasin, former NST chief editor and now blogger, columnist and publisher, and by Zainuddin Maidin, former information minister and Utusan Malaysia chief editor.
At the packed St Ignatius Church in Kelana Jaya, it was the personal, softer side of Jacob Paul — family man and church warden — that came to the fore as his two sons, Byron and Alexander, recounted Jacob’s years of devotion and care.
A large number of serving and former Times journalists were among the congregation to pay their last repects.