Friday, January 7, 2011

Heritage Poster of The Star (Malaysia)

Story of the one and only surviving "Star Goes National" promotional poster!

First, for those not in the know, I am quoting Wikipedia:

"The Star is the leading English-language tabloid format newspaper in Malaysia. It is the largest in terms of circulation in Malaysia, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. It has a daily circulation of between 290,000 to 300,000.
The Star is also a member of the Asia News Network.

The Star is majority-owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association, the second-largest party in the ruling Barisan Nasional alliance. Its major competitors are the New Straits Times and the The Sun, both tabloids."

In 1974 I joined the young Star as their first Photo Editor.

In 1974 we had to fight with scores of established English, Chinese and Malay newspapers! Our biggest "enemies" were "The Straits Echo", "The New Straits Times" and their afternoon tabloid, "The Malay Mail"!

Our founder Mr K.S.Choong, who was also the MD and Editor In Chief realised that the only way we can beat the others are by publishing "Scoop News" and "Scoop Pictures".

Choong has the vision to play up good news pictures BIG and that gets the attentions of our readers! Asked any Star readers that live through the 70's and they will tell you we had the BEST pictures!

I gave no apologies that I pushed my photographers very hard to get the best shots, some of them became the best photojournalists in Malaysia and the wire services.

Photographers like Ng Ah Bak, C.H.Loh, Lim Hong Leong, Goh Chai Hin (who later deserted us for Reuters), C.T.Fong, Stanley Ng were some of my young protegees.

Thanks to the vision of K.S.Choong, I was the only newspaper photographer in Malaysia with the BEST equipment and "fire power"!
I remember with amusement that I had "scooped" our rival photogs so often that they resort to tailing me during jobs! :)

Dr Mahathir and his three little words ;) Arguably the most famous Malaysian political picture, apart from the picture of Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaiming Malayan independence.

The Silver Convention performing at KL Hilton.

The nervous monkey at KL zoo.

The "Bird Man" of Penang, at a Thaipusam festival.

G.P. Waltz at the Penang G.P.

Charity Begins at Home, Penang Old Folks Home.

Water festival in Penang.

RAAF Mirages fighters, formation "A" over Penang.

The curious man, outside a construction site in Penang.

When is my turn? Boy at a Penang polling station, waiting for mum to cast her vote; Malaysian general election.

Australians Barlow and Chambers after their death sentences were announced. Likely the FIRST picture shot INSIDE a Malaysian court room.

Skipper stood helpless as his boat sank off Penang Island.

Aliens spotted on the roof top of a building at Pitt Street, Penang.

Tun Razak's funeral.

Those were some of my more memorable shots of the 70's :)

The Star Goes National...

The Star daily newspaper was first published on 9 September 1971 as a regional newspaper based in Georgetown, PenangThe Star went into national circulation on 3 January 1976 when it set up its new office in Kuala Lumpur.

To let the nation know about our big plan, I was told to produce two promotional posters for the national launch.

I was given a free hand, I can use my own imagination and visualisation with no interference from any of the bosses :)

I remembered working with features writer Francis Wong.

We resort to buying a few big tins of ICI paint and I express my calligraphic prowess on a brick wall somewhere in Noordin Street, Penang.

We then fetch Francis's friend's children to our painted wall and coaxed the boy and girl to pose for my shot!

I remember I shot a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 120 colour transparencies with our Mamiya RB-67 medium format SLR.

The Star did the colour separation and printing in-house and ten of thousands of my masterpiece were pasted all over Malaysia to announce our coming of age, going national!

The famous "Star Goes National" posters that was all over Malaysia's buildings and walls in 1976.

After the paper went national, most of us were transferred to KL.

I remember keeping three copies of the posters, tightly roll up and put in a cardboard tube.

The posters followed us to KL then Penang, for the next many years they were forgotten; sitting in my stuff stored in our Penang house while we were in New Zealand and four years later we moved to Singapore.

I rediscovered the posters when we were holidaying in Penang, 1994 and I took them back to Singapore. Later they traveled to New Zealand after I finished my 4 years tour of duty on the "Little Red Dot".

When I rejoined The Star, the THIRD time as their Picture Editor in 1997; I must have taken the posters with me; I had one copy put in a frame in Penang.
True to the cheap workmanship in Malaysia's framing shop, the finished "art" looked cheap ;)

Third time as Picture Editor for The Star in P.J., Malaysia.

At the new Menara Star office in PJ, 1999 before I was asked to "balikKampong " to NZ after I turned 55.

The framed poster went back home to NZ with me, I do not know where the other two copies gone; it must have been lost during the constant "moving house" while staying in PJ!

The only surviving poster in a cheap Penang wooden frame went into storage in our garage the next few years...

In 2008 we went on a long five weeks holiday in Penang and we came home to a VERY WET house!

A water pipe (the notorious black plastic type) on the attic leaked and you won't believe what water can do to a carpeted chip board floor house!

The leaked water went through the floor and flooded the garage under the living room! What a bleeding mess!!

Thank goodness for our house AND content insurance that after a long three months staying in motels, our house is fixed and BETTER than before :) All paid by our insurance of course! Duh!

EXCEPT for my precious "Star Goes National" framed poster!

The movers who clear our house of all belonging for storage while the house is repaired did a crappy job and when we repacked our stuff we discovered the glass frame was shattered!

The smashed framed poster at a framing shop in Karori,luckily the poster was unharmed! Hurrah!!!

My insurance pay for the damages done and the heritage (one and only), Star Goes National poster now live in a solid NZ hard wood frame with archival acid free board as backing and protected by a UV absorbing glass!

Art Works in Karori did a great job in providing a new frame for my poster!

TruGuard UV protection glass was used for my precious poster.

Me and the restored, one and only "Star Goes National" poster.

The real Mac Coy, genuine article!

The heritage "Star Goes National" colour poster going to a vault for safe keeping :)

Famous Last Words:


What is this historical poster worth to the newspaper concern?

Should I get Sotheby's to auction it off?

The plot thickens!

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A Star Is Born!
Photographer's Swan Song


cy.leow said...

Chong Cheng Hai, good friend; ex-Star; now Editor of rival paper commented on my link via FB:

Chong wrote "Star is celebrating its 40th anniversary and you should get a VIP invitation with first class return ticket. And they should offer you a big sum for the poster. Don't take anything less than RM100k! "

Amino @ Lordmint said...

Your shots are magnificent!

Yea, you should get a VIP invitation from them for the celebration. :)