After a career spanning more than three decades in a single company, Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai will step down from his role as Star Media Group’s (SMG) managing director/chief executive officer on Jan 1, 2019.But SMG will remain Wong’s home, as he contributes, using his wide network of contacts and wealth of experience, both locally and internationally, as the company’s Group Advisor, starting Jan 1.
His successor will be named at an appropriate time. The 57-year-old, who comes from a generation where hard work and loyalty were the norm, leaves behind a tenure in which he led the company through many tricky political hurdles, religious sensitivities and social predicaments.
“I am deeply thankful that I was given the opportunity to serve as MD/ CEO for six years. That’s a pretty long time in Malaysian corporate life, and more so in a most challenging business like the media. The role of a CEO in a Malaysian media company is certainly very different from that of my counterparts in other companies, which is much more straightforward.”
Wong, who describes himself as “old school, yet still eager to learn and adapt,” joined The Star in 1984, earning only about RM300 a month. He went through the company’s suspension for five months in 1987 when its printing permit was revoked but was lucky enough to participate in its subsequent take off and eventual pole position in the English media circles.
“I joined The Star for what it stood for, despite its lower pay, compared with other established media outlets then. While there is always hype over how politics should be reported, I’d like to emphasise that we have continuously advocated moderation as our brand.”
Wong, who assumed the MD/CEO post in 2013, also made history by becoming The Star’s youngest group chief editor at 46 in 2007, a feat no Malaysian journalist has yet to match. He said the company was previously known as Star Publications Bhd but has now evolved to become Star Media Group (SMG) to reflect its wider assets. “From print to online to radio, to events and exhibitions, and now OTT (over the top) video service provider, SMG has transformed,” he shared.
“Transformation has taken place, and we are completely into the digital era, where we are digital first. But I will leave my trusted colleagues, whom I’m sure will do a better job, to deal with the changing times,” he noted.
“It’s not the end of an era for me. I just want to return to my passion – journalism and writing. After all, this is part of succession planning and transformation,” he said on the cusp of stepping down from his position as SMG’s top executive, a call he made to do much earlier than contractually obligated until 2020.
It doesn’t matter if he chose journalism or journalism chose him – The Star offered Wong a job and a life that he truly cherishes today.
“I’m blessed to have worked for the company, and if I were to start all over again, I will still choose The Star.”