Tales of the Dark Days – VII
Recollections of some Star journalists of the Shutdown days
By M Veera Pandiyan
(4 November 2010)
• The day of the dictator
• Those black days when the Star was shut down
• The game of Risk in journalism
• Tunku’s lament, then off in search of jobs
• A personal silver lining
• How the Star newsroom culture changed
• The voice of silence. . .
• Wedding bells and tears – then screws and hinges
• When the Sunday Star almost defied KDN
• Hidden hands of the blackest day
The White Paper tabled in Parliament in 1988 stated that various groups had played up “sensitive issues”, creating “racial tension” in the country (leading to the Operation Lallang crackdown in October 1987). But it smacked of being orchestrated and being allowed to escalate before the swoop took place, in a dangerous strategy of brinkmanship.
Let me share memories of the dark days when my colleagues and I were jobless for five months.
The most productive and fruitful use of time was said to have been put in by Wong Chun Wai, who cast aside his troubles to pursue one of his biggest challenges – courting a girl in a bank who had caught his eye, former state athlete Florence.
Three other colleagues in Penang set up a pizza outlet while others drove taxis, set up pasar malam stalls and such.
ND Raj who had blown most of his money on his wedding earlier in the month and the rest on a lavish Deepavali bash, was among those in dire straits. He took a job as a carpenter, mostly turning screws into an endless number of hinges each day.
As for me, then Malacca staff correspondent, I accepted the first job that came along – fisherman. Together with Charles Cham, the head of the editorial art department in our headquarters in Petaling Jaya (who has since made a name for himself as an artist around the world), I went fishing with the father and son team of Lionel and Martin Theseira. Continue reading