Esther Ng is new Star Group Editor, rebranded as Chief Content Officer

Group chief editor Leanne Goh takes early retirement, together with chief operating officer Calvin Kan, and advertising chief Lim Bee Leng

Star group chief editor Leanne Goh has been replaced by Esther Ng Sek Yee, who is now designated as Chief Content Officer and the Editorial Department has been renamed to Content Department in changes announced by the company today.

Group CEO Wong Chun Wai in a notice issued today said Roy Tan Kong Weng would become Group Chief Operating Office. Tan had spearheaded the media group’s foray into streaming TV through the Dimsum internet broadcasting property. Continue reading


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.

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Star’s radical attempt at moderation

Two years after Najib Razak started peddling his theme of “moderation”, one that’s more honoured in the breach thereof by various factions of his own party let alone the rest of Malaysian society, The Star has joined the parade by appropriating it for its own promotional advertising campaign.

“It is not a word that belongs to any political party,” the campaign says, somewhat defensively perhaps, given Najib’s four-year-old initiative.

The Star's attempt at reflected glory

But then no group, let alone a politician, can claim exclusive ownership of any word in any language.

“Moderation” is one of those feel-good uplifting words with a broad reach, that appeals to many, for few would be called “extremist”.

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MH370 and the Star – June Wong [video]

Suthichai Yoon, founding editor of the independent newspaper The Nation in Bangkok, now group editor in chief and chairman of National Multimedia group, interviewed June Wong, outgoing editor of the Star, last month. The conversation, about the loss of Malaysia Airlines MH370, covered the Star’s coverage, the government’s attitudes, and the impact on the Star’s circulation and advertising. The Nation is a partner with the Star in the Asian News Network.

June Wong was said last night to have been removed as chief editor of the Star and appointed chief operating office for content and convergence.
» Star editor ‘pushed upstairs’

Star editor ‘pushed upstairs’

UPDATE: The Star confirms ouster

The Star confirms the move Calvin Kan, from Star Radio, is made group chief operating officer and will continue to oversee the radio group. June is made chief operating officer, content development, and will assist CEO Wong Chun Wai with convergence; Leanne Goh becomes acting group chief editor.

Malaysian Insider’s report

Malaysian Insider's report


Word was going around last night that The Star’s editor, June Wong, is being moved “upstairs” into a more corporate role, taking charge of content from the company’s many media properties, and bringing about “convergence” between the press, broadcasting and online sides.

Her replacement as group chief editor is expected to be her current deputy, Leanne Goh, who was once education editor.

It is believed the changes were approved by the board on Monday afternoon.

Among the reasons speculated by journalists for June’s removal, or promotion, were:

  • New MCA president Liow Tiong Lai wants someone more politically reliable or more aligned towards his ways and thinking
  • June is viewed as being someone from departing Star deputy chairman Vincent Lee’s camp
  • The party and the board want someone with greater political nous and street smarts, who can keep a balance between journalism and swaying with the political winds
  • There has been growing pressure both from within the MCA itself, as well as from Umno, for greater coverage, with several instances being cited where party political stories did not receive the coverage that politicians believed to be their due
  • June’s new appointment will give greater impetus towards bringing together all content in a more coherent form, an aim that the company had set out earlier, but which had not seen much progress.
  • There had been rumblings in the newsroom when she was appointed to the editorship in November.

The reshuffle of editors takes place with Vincent Lee’s departure and the elevation of chief editor Wong Chun Wai to the top corporate job of chief executive, also in November. (He had been acting CEO since August 1 last year.)

In recent months June’s editorship was sharply questioned by pro-Barisan bloggers — among others, Wee Choo Keong, the independent (pro-Barisan Nasional) former MP for Wangsa Maju, and an online associate of Rocky’s Bru. Wee did not stand in Wangsa Maju in last year’s election.

Writing in his blog in January and February this year, he questioned the abilities of June (and one or two other unnamed editors) for the Star’s editorial coverage, picking on “weird headlines” as examples. » LINK. June has also been attacked elsewhere on the Internet and accused of having sympathies towards the DAP.

However pro-Umno blogger Jailani Harun, a former journalist, has also defended the Star for covering matters about the DAP and other Pakatan Rakyat parties as straight news.

In September last year, he wrote:

When the paper published a few line story about Ong Kian Ming’s entry into DAP, it was just another form of news, just like when other papers carried stories about Zaid Ibrahim leaving Umno and forming Kita, and Lajim Ukin joining the opposition. A news is just another news. Although readers have options in sourcing it, mainstream newspapers are always sought. For English, The Star and NST are the major ones but readers who look for balanced-reporting would go for The Star.

Will a sellout help the fading Star?

Questions of credibility and crumbling sales

Although MCA president Chua Soi Lek has firmly denied speculation of the party selling off its assets, among which The Star is a prize item, for its political and financial power, it is still an open question as to whether the MCA’s ownership of the paper is becoming a drag on the paper and its commercial success. [No sale]

Raja Petra Kamarudin at Malaysia Today had speculated yesterday that the MCA would suffer the fate of Umno after its deregistration and rebirth as Umno Baru in 1989, and become subject to asset-stripping by its taikos.

RPK had named the Star’s chairman, Fong Chan Onn, executive deputy chairman Vincent Lee as among those most likely to lead any such shuffling of MCA assets. [RPK]

Speculation about a possible sale of MCA holdings in property and investments (the MCA building in Jalan Ampang, Menara Multi-Purpose in Capital Square and others) arose after the party's drubbing at the general election on May 5. Only seven of its candidates were returned as MPs, and 11 as state assemblymen in its worst electoral performance.

Soon there was further talk of giving up the ghost and liquidating the party's assets.

The Star is a prize asset, together with its minor publications and three radio stations. The party’s 42% stake in Star Publications, the publishing company, bring in tens of millions of ringgit in annual dividends.

Declining value of Star shares

Declining value of Star shares

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