I first started Speakeasy as a column in 1991 when I was news editor for a business magazine in the New Straits Times Group.
But I wanted it to be mostly non-serious and I proposed it for the Sunday Times, then the country’s largest selling newspaper.
How things change.
Speakeasy has since evolved, in fits and starts, through two other newspapers until its final incarnation in the business section of the Saturday Star until recently.
In truth, it should have never been in the business section but its business editor M Shanmugam is a good friend and he suggested its inclusion. It was the late Soo Ewe Jin, a Star senior editor and another friend, who suggested to Shan that I write a column for the paper. I am indebted to him.
I know about serious journalism because I should. I worked in the foreign media for twenty years and, in the 90s, I worked as the Malaysian bureau chief of a weekly newsmagazine that Dr Mahathir, the premier then, was decidedly not fond of.
Indeed, I remember once – in 1996 or thereabouts – covering an event that Dr M was to launch in Johor.
Unfortunately, he spotted me as he was being escorted in and his speech morphed into an attack on me and the magazine over an article I’d written. And the worst part was that after he’d finished in English, he translated it into Bahasa lest there be some Johoreans unfamiliar with English.
It came out in the papers the next day which can’t have been easy for my wife, then a senior officer with the government.
This has nothing to do with the price of fish and I am actually delighted that the Old Man is back as Premier now given that the alternative was someone called MO1. I thought the guy after Larry and Curly had retired.
The only reason for that bit of reminiscence was to show that I am familiar with the business, and criticisms, that critical reporting entails.
Which is why writing a column such as this is such a joy. Humour and self- deprecation, when properly directed, can make as much of a point as serious reporting but without the sting.
My daughter Raisa, 26, has agreed to administer the blog and she suggests that I write one every week just as I did for the Star. What do you think?
I will endeavor not to exceed 650 words because anything beyond that generally cause heaviness of the eyelids and general boredom.
I shall try to avoid both.