Datuk A Kadir Jasin: A gem of Malaysian journalism

Veteran journalist Datuk A Kadir Jasin, 63, is perhaps best known for his ‘Other Thots’ – a well-followed and often controversial column. Having started his life in journalism in 1969 with Bernama, Kadir, a veteran with 43 years’ experience in mainstream journalism, was then with the NSTP Group when he crafted the influential Sunday Times column entitled ‘Other Thots’.

It not only provided reference for the political climate in the country but also became both the barometer and lightning rod of local politics. With its huge following, it was common for Kadir to receive both bouquets and brickbats from readers. As a seasoned journalist who believes in the right of reply, Kadir took such feedback in his stride and as being part of the job.

Since leaving the NSTP in 2000, ‘Other Thots’ has since shifted to the well-referenced business fortnightly magazine Malaysian Business which comes under the stable of Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd, which Kadir today helms. In fact, ‘Other Thots’ has been also compiled into two books, published by Pelanduk Publications and Berita Publishing, respectively.

Besides being a respected journalist and blogger, Kadir is also a prolific author and is one of the few veteran journalists today who are proficient in both Bahasa Malaysia and English, having been involved in editing The Business Times, Berita Minggu, Berita Harian, New Straits Times and New Sunday Times.

Besides ‘Othor Thots’, Kadir also writes a long-running weekly column in Berita Harian using the nom de plume Kunta Kinte, which has since been turned into two books and published by Universiti Malaya Press and Berita Publishing in 1998 and 2012, respectively. His other books include ‘The Wings of an Eagle’ (2003), ‘Mencari Dugalia Huso’ (2006), ‘Blogger’ (2006), ‘PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran’ (2008), ‘Komedi & Tragedi – Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics’ (2009) and ‘Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena’ published by Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka (2009). Kunta Kinte Original: Catatan Kopitiam is his latest book.

Not one to mince his words, it is not uncommon for him to take to task politicians, high-society individuals and companies for flouting good governance practices. Indeed, it has been said that some corporate chieftains, politicians and bureaucrats have broken into a cold sweat when their names or organisations were mentioned in ‘Other Thots’ because they knew some form of retribution would follow.

One may not agree with his viewpoints on everything, but it is difficult to dispute his opinions on the senselessness of violence, the crassness of society as it progresses and the lunacy of mayhem in the name of religion. Described as a wordsmith by many readers, his choice of words for the right occasion can be both stinging and entertaining.

A firm believer in the new media as an effective medium for journalists and communicators, Kadir started his blog www.kadirjasin.blogspot.com in February 2006, thus becoming among the earliest Malaysian journalists to go online. Writing in both Bahasa Malaysia and English, his blog has attracted an impressive following and has registered 5.42 million visits to-date. Many of his views centre on the performance of the Government, political issues and current affairs. It can be said that he has made his mark as one of the more prominent and respected bloggers in the country.

Kadir hails from a humble background. He was born on August 23, 1947 in Kampung Tanah Merah, Pendang, Kedah. He is the second child of a paddy farmer’s eight children. He started his early education at the Malay School at Pendang before entering English school at St. Michael Primary School in Alor Star. He had his secondary education at the St. Michael and Sultan Abdul Hamid College in Alor Star and Ibrahim Secondary School in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

In 1971, he won a Colombo Plan scholarship to study journalism at the Wellington Polytechnic, New Zealand, and in 1977, the Berlin Senate scholarship to attend the Advanced Journalism Course at the Berlin International Institute of Journalism.

Although he had hoped to join the civil service and become an Assistant District Officer, he accepted a job with the national news agency Bernama in 1969. He began as a reporter in KL and was later posted to Penang, Kedah and Perlis.  In 1972, he joined the Economics Desk of Bernama and in 1976, made a monumental shift in career to The New Straits Times Press Group as one of the pioneering staff of the country’s first local business daily, Business Times.

He went on to become Associated Editor of Business Times, Group Editor of Berita Harian, Group Editor of the New Straits Times and finally Group Editor-in-Chief of The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd.

He has also served as a Board of Trustees member of the Press Foundation of Asia, Manila, a Member of the Malaysian Business Council, a Council Member of the Asia-Australia Institute, University of New South Wales, a Member of the National Information Technology Council (NITC), a Board Member of the Council of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM), a Member of the National Economic Consultative Council 2 (MAPEN2) and the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police.

On May 31, 2000, after serving 31 years in journalism, Kadir chose to step down from the helm of the NSTP Group after successfully charting its course and steering it through many journeys.

In the course of his illustrative career, he has received a number of awards and letters of appreciation from within as well as outside the country. In 1978, he received the ‘Mitsubishi-Press Foundation of Asia Editor Of the Year’ award, and in 1998, an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the Science University of Malaysia (USM). In 1995, he was honoured with the Panglima Jasa Negara award that carries the title ‘Datuk’ by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Whether as a shareholder or director, Kadir leaves the day-to-day running of the company to the management team, preferring instead to concentrate on writing. After all, writing is in his blood and this is what he does best. – Charles Raj, Senior Editor, Berita Publishing.