Stalking the new prime minister

For two weeks, we reporters camped outside Perdana Leadership Foundation, taking down names of those who came to see the prime minister, trying to stop them when they left, by throwing ourselves in front of their moving vehicles. Most of them would give us a friendly wave, but decline to comment.

The weather was mostly hot and, without many shade trees available, most of us developed a good tan. Curious onlookers who dropped by the foundation would whip out their phones and take selfies and photos of reporters en camp. — Azura Abas, New Straits Times

Torrid pace in Putrajaya


The man who produced the first front page

» RIP – KP Khoo, layout man

Remembering KP Khoo

By Gobind Rudra

Khoo Kay Peng came to Balai Berita from the Echo in 1970 or so, a lanky soft spoken man of few words. He soon stuck up a friendship with poker and bakuteh kakis such as Michael Foong and John Khoo, and some Penang lang like myself and K Sugumaran.

Then in mid 1971 he began holding a series of mysterious meetings involving his former boss KS Choong, the upshot of which was the desertion of Sugu and Koh Su Chun from the Times, and Mohanan Menon, Charlie Chan and KP’s fellow Echo refugee Khoo Teng Guan from the Malay Mail, with Sanny Tan and Tony Rangel from the Echo. In September, after mighty labours, they gave birth to the “impact compact” (a term stolen from the Sun of Fleet Street, with whom we had lifting rights) which scandalised conservative Penang society as well as the Times and the Echo, to the delight of schoolboys, schoolgirls and fellow upstart journos.

The first front page of The Star on Sept 9, 1971

The first front page of The Star on Sept 9, 1971

KP was chief sub and more or less set the tone of the paper with his headings and layouts, to which Teng Guan and I, and later RD Selva, added our share with our own stamp on things, though largely influenced by the scandalous Sun.

KP was to be the mentor of a large pool of young journos when he eventually wandered back to Balai Berita and rose to be the resident guru of subbing and layout. He spent his latter days with the Reserve.

Kay Peng was a lifelong bachelor but he was never lonely, and that little pup that he and the rest of us helped to deliver carries a little bit of him in every copy.

Farewell “Ah Peng”. A beer and fish curry at Kassim Nasi Kandar at 3am and a stroll down the old Gurney Drive the next time we meet.

Gobind Rudra joined the Star in September 1971 and later handled news production of the Sunday edition. He went back to the New Straits Times two years later but rejoined the Star in 1977 where he was later Group Executive Editor, before leaving full-time journalism.

He turned out zingers in print

By Tony Khoo Teng Guan

The man walked softly but he left a distinctive trail. You don’t quite know when he had come into the room but it was always a relief to look up from your work to see him at his desk because you know the next day’s paper will be a zinger with catchy headlines and colourful blurbs. Khoo Kay Peng was quietly spoken and it was always a wonder to me that inside this low-key, almost-introvert, was a big bubble of colour, exuberance and pizzazz. We met when I joined the Straits Echo in Penang as a reporter and he was a sub-editor there with Sanny Tan.

At that time, this was in 1968-69, Kay Peng was already a big fan of the English soccer league and he had written articles and commentary for an English soccer magazine under the name of Vernon Khoo. Without live TV or the internet for research, Kay Peng crafted his English soccer league pieces off the top of his head in his home in Green Lane for a publication in England for British readers. In August of 1971, Kay Peng, Sanny Tan, Gobind Rudra, Sugumaran, Charles Chan, Menon and I joined The Star at Weld Quay, under K. S. Choong and Penang’s first tabloid landed on the streets in September that year.

The team worked 16-hour shifts for months to get The Star out every day. Kay Peng and I crossed paths again in The New Straits Times for a short time some years later until I again left for The Star in 1977. Although we have not seen each other for at least 25 years now, I still maintain a deep respect for Kay Peng’s journalistic skills. Goodbye kawan.

Khoo Teng Guan had left the Echo and was with the Malay Mail when recruited for the founding editorial crew of The Star in Weld Quay, George Town. After a career with the Star, New Straits Times and The (Singapore) Straits Times, he now lives in Sydney with his wife Muriel, a former Bernama, New Straits Times and Star journalist. His father John Khoo, was a fontly-remembered veteran of the Echo, Eastern Sun, New Straits Times and The Star.


RIP – KP Khoo, layout man

Khoo Kay Peng, 1944-2016
former production editor, New Straits Times

KP Khoo, a member of the founding editorial team of The Star and a back-room boy known within the Malaysian English-language press for his design and newspaper production skills, has died at the age of 72 at his home in Kuala Lumpur.

News of his death was reported by his brother, sports journalist Kay Soon, in a msssage to friends and former colleagues on Facebook.

As the first chief sub-editor of The Star, it was Kay Peng who had the distinction of producing the first front-page of Malaysia’s first tabloid newspaper and the first to be printed by the offset printing method. (See » The man who produced the first front page).

He had begun with Penang’s home-town newspaper, The Straits Echo, and had been recruited by the Malaysian edition of the Straits Times. Penang businessman KS Choong, the founder of The Star, approached him to help put together an editorial team and he left in August 1971, taking a couple of reporters and sub-editors from Balai Berita with him.

He served in various capacities with the Star, in its first home at Weld Quay, then at Pitt Street and later rejoined the New Straits Times, being responsible for the first major revamp of the paper under group editor Noordin Sopiee. In the mid-90s The Star, now big and rich, poached him for a revamp of its own which didn’t come about, and KP went back to Balai Berita. In his later years, KP took charge of the production of the Malaysian Reserve.

Khoo Kay Peng, newspaper production journalist


‘Unpardonable sin’ by PM’s Office – Kadir

Former NSTP group chief editor A Kadir Jasin has accused the prime minister’s office of “an unpardonable sin” in alluding to “legacy family wealth” in a response to an article in the New York Times earlier this month.

“Unless the PMO makes an about turn and deny ever making a statement to the NYT about Mohd Najib’s so-called inheritance, it stands accused of tainting the memory of that great man,” said Kadir, writing in his blog on Wednesday.

Photo posted at Kadir Jasin’s blog with the caption ‘Tun Razak a frugal man’

“The PMO propaganda machine can do whatever it likes even at the expense of ethics and morality to protect the PM and his wife. But for it to dishonour and disrespect the memory of Tun Abdul Razak is an unpardonable sin.”

Kadir’s comment on the response by the PM’s Office came in the bottom half of his blog posting, which had been about the prime minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, and her comments about rising costs and her RM1,200 hairdo.

“I leave it entirely to readers and debaters to make sense of the RM1,200-hairdo. You can credit her for speaking up on behalf of consumers or loath her for the hair raising price she paid for hair colouring,” he said, before going on to the joint statement by Najib’s four brothers. Continue reading

Barisan papers fail basic journalism

Utusan, NST, Star, Sun chicken out when Tun Razak’s sons
(minus Najib) respond to ‘legacy family wealth’ claim

Former New Straits Times Press group chief editor A Kadir Jasin has rightly questioned why major newspapers owned by Barisan Nasional parties failed to carry a joint statement by the four brothers of prime minister Najib Abdul Razak defending their late father’s reputation against the prime minister’s office alluding to “legacy family wealth”.

Kadir said the BN papers had flouted a basic rule of journalism, the right of reply, by not allowing the four brothers to respond to what had already been published about their father in those very newspapers and elsewhere.

The New York Times. Feb 8

The New York Times. Feb 8

He told Malaysiakini: “What’s important to note here is that there must be something terribly wrong with the PMO statement to prompt the brothers to not only distance themselves from the content of that statement, but to accuse it of tarnishing the image of their late father” (Tun Abdul Razak, the second prime minister).

Tun Razak’s sons, minus Najib, issued a joint statement on Tuesday night, emailed to all major newspapers, Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider and The Edge.

They had defended Razak’s reputation for integrity and frugality in response to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office published in the New York Times. Continue reading

BN media black out Najib’s brothers

Asia Sentinel report on Wednesday


Newspapers owned by Barisan Nasional parties Umno and MCA have blacked out a media statement by Najib Razak’s brothers defending their late father’s reputation for integrity and frugality, Malayakini reports.

The statement had been in response to a New York Times report about purported “legacy family wealth” accounting for lavish spending by Najib’s family.

The four junior sons of the late Tun Abdul Razak, second prime minister, had emailed their joint statement to the largest-circulating newspapers, and to Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider and business weekly The Edge.

None of the Barisan Nasional-owned newspapers carried any report on the statement, Malaysiakini said.

NOT REPORTED: Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, New Straits Times (all owned or controlled by Umno), The Star (owned by the MCA).
REPORTED: Sinchew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.

Continue reading

Zam, Kadir, Johan and power struggles

Umno-friendly Malaysian Digest reporting on Zam last week

Umno-friendly Malaysian Digest reporting on Zam last week

Zainuddin Maidin has been a longtime friend of Mahathir Mohamad, a fellow Kedahan, and both share conservative views on Malay and Muslim rights.

Zam’s journalism career began in 1951 as a “stringer” (part-timer) for Utusan in Alor Star, where Mahathir had his clinic. After 10 years as a stringer, he was appointed Utusan staff reporter and rose through the ranks, his career coinciding with Mahathir’s own rise, becoming chief editor in 1982.

Utusan Malaysia, owned outright by Umno, was the leading Malaysian newspaper at the time and known for its conservative stance on Malay rights and took provocative positions on non-Malay affairs.

Zam frequently wrote provocative pieces using the Awang Selamat pseudonym, which continues to champion Malay and Muslim supremacy in Malaysian affairs. Continue reading

Daim and Anwar ousted me as editor: Zam

Former Utusan Malaysia chief editor Zainuddin Maidin has accused former finance ministers Daim Zainuddin and Anwar Ibrahim of jointly ousting him from the Utusan editorship in 1993.

Defending his independence against accusations that he was a tool of political masters, Zam said he had never been a hack in his five decades in journalism. Zam said he had been loyal to Utusan and its policies on the party and the party leadership and had never served up fiction.

Zam: always loyal to Utusan, Umno and leaders
[Image: Malaysiakini]

“Daim and Anwar who were jointly responsible for ousting me as Utusan chief editor know my stance,” he said.

Long seen as a staunch Mahathir loyalist, Zam was “kicked upstairs” as editorial adviser in Utusan in 1992 when Anwar became deputy prime minister, and later to a corporate position. He was replaced by Anwar ally Johan Jaffar, who was in turn later ousted with Anwar’s downfall in 1998.

Zam then went on to enter politics under Mahathir as senator in 1998 and MP in 2004, later becoming a minister of information under Abdullah Badawi before defeat in the 2008 elections ended his political career.

Johan Jaafar after some years in the wilderness, is now chairman of Media Prima, the Umno-controlled owner of commercial television, New Straits Times and Berita Harian.


Zaid Ibrahim sticks it to Zam (and Anwar)

» Zam decides to shut up as Anwar-Daim fight

» Zam, Johan, Kadir and power struggles

News pixman punched at MH17 funeral

New Straits Times photographer Aizuddin Saad was punched while covering the funeral of MH17 passengers in Kuala Lumpur earlier today, apparently after ignoring family wishes for privacy. A video posted by Malaysiakini shows a family member approaching the photographer and throwing a punch at him.

It was not known what had transpired between the photographer and family members before the incident occurred. A large crowd of reporters and photographers had gathered at the Nirvana memorial centre in Sungei Besi to cover the funerals, and were at a side entrance, at the receiving area for hearses, when the incident took place.

A family member was quoted by the Star this evening as saying: “I do not understand why the media thinks that we have to share our private moments with them. Do we owe you (the media) that? If this happens to your loved ones, probably you can feel the same pain and anger as we are going through now.”

He also questioned why MAS and the funeral parlour had released details to the press.

Continue reading

Philip Lim – young once, forever fun

By Gobind Rudra

Portrait of Philip Lim by CH Loh, 2011

Portrait by CH Loh, taken at an NST get-together in 2011

Philip Lim Chin Guan, who died of a heart attack last Tuesday, had spent a lifetime in newspapering with the New Straits Times, lighting up lives and making many friends with his broad grin, no-nonsense attitude and keen sense of humour.

Those qualities set him apart from other would-be interns and freelancers when he walked into the Weld Quay office of the fledgling Star in 1972, while he was at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

It was more than an interest in newspapers or the in Star, then making an impact with the young. There was a more personal angle: Shirley Teoh, the tall, soft-spoken assistant head of the copy-input team of girls handling the Justowriter machines.

Philip had met Shirley at church, and would drop by the Star to see her or to drop off an article, which was just as good an excuse to see Shirley. They’ve been together ever since.

Eventually Philip turned up at the New Straits Times, then the rich ad-laden money machine and establishment institution read for what it didn’t say as much as what it did.

Continue reading