MALAYSIA: Business Editor to take over as The Star chief

Datuk Wong Sulong will take over the helm of the top-selling paper from tomorrow; few policy changes expected

The Straits Times
Wednesday, December 31, 2003

By Leslie Lau

Malaysia's top-selling English-language daily, The Star, will see changes to its top editorial positions in the new year as part of a number of key new appointments to newspapers here.

Datuk Wong Sulong, 56, the daily's Business Editor, will take over from Datuk Ng Poh Tip as the newspaper's Group Chief Editor tomorrow.

Datuk Wong, who has been in journalism for 37 years, declined to comment on his appointment to helm one of Malaysia's most profitable media organisations.

But The Straits Times understands that there would be few significant changes in editorial policy for the daily, which is owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

Traditionally, the top editor of The Star, with its wide Chinese readership, has always taken a much lower profile than that of the New Straits Times, where former Straits Times correspondent Datuk Kalimullah Hassan is set to take over as Group Editor-in-Chief in the New Year as well.

Datuk Wong started his career with The Straits Times in 1966, working for 2 1/2 years in the newspaper's Kuala Lumpur office.

He then spent more than 20 years here and in Australia as a correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), as well as the local representative here for the Financial Times.

In 1996, he became The Star's Business Editor.

Another key appointment at The Star will be that of Datuk Wong Chun Wai as one of its two deputy group editors-in-chief.

He told The Straits Times that The Star would widen its coverage to attract more Malay readers to the Chinese-owned newspaper.

'At one time, it was predicted that the readership of English-language newspapers would decline because of the increase in the number of Malay-educated Malaysians but that has not happened,' he said.

He said The Star has seen tremendous growth in the number of Malay readers and would continue to position itself as an alternative to the New Straits Times and Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, two newspapers controlled by Umno, for political and entertainment stories.

The 42-year-old Datuk Wong Chun Wai joined The Star in 1983 after graduating with a political science degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

It was at the university that he began making connections with politicians and fellow undergraduates who have now risen to high positions, especially within the MCA.

He has had a meteoric career in the newspaper, having established himself as an adept political correspondent for The Star. He has influential contacts within Umno as well.

The Star has a daily circulation of between 290,000 and 300,000. The NST trails with a circulation of only about half that number.