Friends and colleagues, both present and past, paid their last respects today to Malay Mail editor-in-chief Datuk Wong Sai Wan, a veteran journalist whom they remembered fondly.
Malay Mail publisher Datuk Siew Ka Wei, who has known Wong for almost two decades, said he considered him to be like a brother.
“He’s like my older brother, I treat him like my older brother, although he’s younger than me. I’m older than him but I treat him like my older brother, one of the best men I’ve ever known,” he said when met at Wong’s wake.
Siew said he had known Wong for years before the latter joined Malay Mail.
“He was the best of the best. I tried to get him to join me for many years, in the end, I got him,” he said.
Siew described Wong as “Iron Man” and a “superstar”, in a nod to Wong’s fondness for the Marvel Comics superhero character Iron Man which is displayed prominently in Wong’s office.
He added that Wong was a “very friendly” man who “helped everybody” who asked for his help.
The Edge publisher Datuk Ho Kay Tat said he had known Wong for 36 years circa 1985, when Ho was then with Malay Mail and Wong was then with The Star.
Ho said he had, as The Star’s CEO from 2011 to 2012, worked together with Wong when the latter was the executive editor of The Star.
“I think like everyone else, I was really shocked when I heard the news yesterday morning, because I thought he was recovering very well from a stroke in November.
“And so, I was absolutely really shocked. It’s a major loss I think to the family, friends and the industry because he was a true-blue journalist,” he told Malay Mail when met at the wake.
ECM Libra Group Berhad chairman Datuk Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan, who was with The Star from 1979 to around 1985 or 1986, described Wong as a “good friend”.
“He started work as my trainee in 1985 in The Star. I was the chief reporter.
“All I can say is that he was a friend. He was a good friend. I used to visit him when he was in Seremban as (The Star’s Seremban) bureau chief; he loved to eat.
“But we used to see each other, used to visit him in Seremban, used to meet up in KL for a drink. I haven’t seen him in some time, but we spoke on the phone,” he said.
Among those seen at the wake were Malay Mail’s deputy editor-in-chief Joseph Raj and Malay Mail’s Managing Editor Leslie Lau.
Wong, who was born in Negri Sembilan, passed away yesterday morning at the age of 59 from a heart attack.
Wong was a 40-year veteran of the news industry, starting off as a reporter with local newspaper The Star and taking on various roles before eventually being appointed as Malay Mail’s editor-in-chief in 2014.
A wake for Wong is currently being held from 11am to 6pm today and tomorrow at Xiao En Centre on 1 Jalan Kuari in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
Due to current standard operating procedures (SOP) under the movement control order (MCO), only 50 people will be allowed at one time, with a waiting area if those present exceed the permitted number.
A funeral service is set for 10am on May 17, with a restriction of 15 people.
Tributes have poured in for Wong, including from his fellow peers who worked in the media industry, alumni from his secondary school in Seremban.
Those who offered their condolences and tributes include the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, politicians such as Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. – MMO