The Last of the Malaysian Newspaper Mohicans

October 30, 2012

My Friend Syed Nadzri: The Last of the Malaysian Newspaper Mohicans


Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, Group Editor of the New Straits Times, said farewell to the editorial staff this evening, at a sombre tea party on the 2nd Floor.

His impending departure had been talked about for the past month and word was that he would be taking up a directorship at a large corporation, but for the moment that is just shop talk.

The newsroom focus is more about who might replace him: next in rank is Managing Editor Nuraina Samad.

For the past year, however, it has been Group Managing Editor Jalil Hamid, former Press Secretary to the Prime Minister, who has been calling the shots in the newsroom, as Ahmad Talib did before him and occasionally still does.

Syed Nadzri’s departure comes against a backdrop of constant sniping from pro-UMNO bloggers, especially those allied to Mahathir Mohamad as well as Najib Razak, determined to root out anyone still at Balai Berita seen to be allied with former Deputy Chairman Kalimullah Hassan.

Syed Nadzri rose through the ranks, beginning as a sports reporter with The Star before he moved to Balai Berita on the News Desk. Even as group editor, he would often be at a terminal near the desk in the afternoons, going through copy, rather than in his office.

Last month he was honoured by the National Press Club with its Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to the industry.

With his departure, the NST has probably seen the last of the professional journalists holding the position, although the appointment of NST editors has always been subject to approval by UMNO Presidents.

Political appointees as group editor-in-chief, responsible for both the NST and Berita Harian, have been the NST editor de jure for many years, with the NST Group Editor (editorially responsible for the New Straits Times and New Sunday Times) reduced to a figurehead position responsible for day-to-day affairs.

Now with the New Straits Times Press swallowed up into the bowels of Media Prima, with television revenues covering for NST losses, and the politicisation of the group media in preparation for the coming general election, it remains to be seen whether there will still be a group editor’s position to be filled.But they do say nature abhors a vacuum.

One thought on “The Last of the Malaysian Newspaper Mohicans

  1. There goes a good and very experienced and astute journalist, all because he is deemed to be associated with Kalimullah Hassan, NST Vice Chairman and close confidante of former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

    Ability takes a back seat to sycophancy/ampuism. I wish my good friend Dato Nadzri all the best for the future and would like to remind him that a professional will always find his way in life.–Din Merican

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