Caption: K. Bala, the team manager of the NST Editorial hockey team holding the trophy after the team emerged champion in the NST Inter-Department hockey tournament. Three others in this picture - John Pillay, M.A. Razman (aka Rattan Singh) and C. Navaratnam - have since passed on.
I lost yet another journalism sifu today.
K. Bala, who used to send shivers down the spine of every journalist I know at NST and Malay Mail, died in his sleep in Pulau Langkawi last night. He has been spending a lot of time in this legendary island upon his retirement some 15 years ago. He grew so much fondness for this island that even in his ill-health, he visited the island on and off.
Bala was a taskmaster, but never stinged on passing on his knowledge to young reporters. I was among them. He scolded us everyday, made sure we got out of the office to meet contacts and made us sit next to him when he was clearing our stories. As much as he grumbled, he taught us.
He did not spare the rod and did not spare the harsh words. But when it was end of the year and bonus time, he was fair in the performance appraisal. Many of my colleagues can vouch for that.
There are many stories about Bala. If I decide to write a book in future, perhaps he will take up a whole chapter.
Saiful, Kams and I had made plans to visit Bala one of these days. That didn't take place because the three of us couldn't actually agree on a suitable time. We now have to live with the regret that we didn't.
Goodbye Bala. Thank you. The country's journalism fraternity mourns your passing. May you rest in peace.
My name is Mohd Ashraf Abdullah. I was born and raised in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. I am a journalist at heart. I served the New Straits Times as a journalist for 17 years, beginning as a cadet reporter in 1988. I was trained to be a political writer. I served the NST in various capacities including as Staff Correspondent of the Kuantan Bureau and London Correspondent. I resigned as News Editor in 2004 to join Golden Hope Plantations Berhad as Deputy General Manager, Group Corporate Affairs. Two years later I was made General Manager, Group Corporate Affairs. When Golden Hope and Kumpulan Guthrie Berhad were merged with Sime Darby Berhad in November 2007, I chose not to accept the offer of employment by the merged entity. I was a scholar of the British Government and possess a Masters Degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. I am also a Jefferson's Fellow of the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.