KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — Veteran newsman Datuk Ahmad A. Talib, who was formerly the group editor of newspaper publisher New Straits Times Press (NSTP) group, has died today, a news report said.
According to local daily New Straits Times (NST), the 68-year-old had died at 5.42pm at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), where he was being treated for cancer, which was discovered before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
When contacted, his daughter Sophia Ahmad said Ahmad’s liver cancer diagnosis came as a surprise to the family as the disease was not known until it was already at an advanced stage.
“He was admitted first to Pantai Hospital a week before Ramadan and he got transferred to PPUM on the first day of Raya,” she told Malay Mail, adding that he responded well to treatment at first before his condition deteriorated rapidly.
In a Facebook post, Sophia had earlier today said Ahmad’s body would be taken to the Masjid Al Muqarrobin in Bandar Tasik Selatan with prayers to be held there, and with the funeral to be today.
On Twitter, online users such as Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi and Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari expressed their condolences to the family.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said he was sad to hear of Ahmad’s death, who he hailed as an excellent journalism icon and a committed social activist.
News editor at NSTP and Berita Harian, Veena Rusli, wrote on Twitter on the loss to the local news industry: “Datuk A Ahmad Talib @aatpahitmanis was a true newsman. An institution, of sorts. A foodie. An angler. A friend. Never a boss, always a leader. Moga Allah mencucuri rahmat-Nya ke atas roh Allahyarham. Kehilangan besar buat dunia kewartawanan Malaysia. Al-Fatihah.”
Others on Twitter expressed their appreciation for Ahmad by calling him “sifu” or mentor.
According to the NST report, Ahmad had been in the news industry for four decades, having started out as a reporter with national news outlet Bernama in 1972.
In an April 23, 2014 company announcement by Media Prima Bhd on Bursa Malaysia, Ahmad’s career highlights were listed as including being a journalist with Bernama until 1978, before he became economic news editor at Berita Harian in 1985, and assistant editor at the same paper in 1987, and news editor at NST in 1987, chief news editor of NST in 1991, associate editor of NST in 1996, group editor of NST in 1998, and group general manager for communications and editorial marketing at NST in 2004.
He was also executive director of Media Prima, a post which he was appointed to in June 2009 before retiring in April 2014.
Ahmad, whose first column was published in August 1995 as “Kurang Manis”, had continued to write his “Pahit Manis” column in the New Sunday Times.
His last column was published on May 3 in the NST, where he said the movement control order (MCO) imposed in Malaysia to curb the spread of Covid-19 was the best time to reflect on life and a chance to strengthen family bonds while staying indoors.
Ahmad had written that people tend to take their families for granted and assume to know their needs and wants, but said the actual situation is often far from assumptions held.
“So stop moaning and groaning about the MCO. Use it to reflect on family values, targets, plan careers and bond tightly. You may never get another chance,” he had written.