MALAYSIA: The Star newspaper to get its youngest-ever top editor

Former top editor will now oversee new media projects and online news

The Straits Times
Saturday, September 8, 2007

By Chow Kum Hor 

Malaysia's top-selling English newspaper, The Star, will get its youngest-ever top editor on Oct 1. Datuk Wong Chun Wai, 46, will be promoted to the No.1 post to replace Mr Michael Aeria, 54.

Datuk Wong is currently the daily's deputy group chief editor, the No.2 post.

Mr Aeria, who took over on Jan 1, will be made chief operating officer overlooking multimedia development, a newly created post.

Mr Aeria will spearhead the company's efforts to venture into new media such as online news, short messaging service (SMS) alerts and producing news video clips, a source in the newspaper said.

"Recently, the newspaper created new posts like new media editor and deputy new media editor," the source said.

Datuk Wong, a National University of Malaysia graduate in political science, joined the newspaper in 1984 as a cub reporter in Penang.

He is widely seen as having close ties with the government, including leaders from the Malaysian Chinese Association, which has a controlling stake in the daily.

Datuk Wong's current position is expected to be kept vacant for the time being.

According to an independent survey on The Star's website, the paper's weekday editions are read by more than 1.1 million people in Malaysia.

Its nearest rival, the New Straits Times, has only 330,000 readers.

The Star's market dominance has contributed to its steadily growing profits. Last year, it recorded a RM161 million (S$70 million) net profit, up from RM155 million the previous year.

The newspaper, a member of the Asia News Network, was forcibly shut down by the government in 1987 following a massive crackdown on dissidents.

The Star was, at that time, perceived to be anti-government, and its publishing licence was suspended, together with Sin Chew Jit Poh, a Chinese daily, and Malay tabloid Watan.