Journalism veteran Patrick Daniel to retire as SPH deputy CEO, stay on as consultant

SPH's deputy CEO Patrick Daniel, 63, will retire on Sept 1 but he will continue as a part-time consultant, assisting new CEO Ng Yat Chung in managing some SPH subsidiaries and projects. PHOTO: SPH

SINGAPORE - As a young director in the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 1986, Mr Patrick Daniel was happy in his job and had no intention of making a big career change.

But then Straits Times Press executive chairman S R Nathan kept persuading him to try out journalism and the 32-year-old finally relented.

"They made (their offer) more and more attractive and, one day, I decided I would give it a shot. And the memorable thing is that from the first day that I joined journalism, I found that it suited me down to my toes," he said on Friday (May 26).

It suited him so well, in fact, that he stayed for 30 years, rising through the ranks from a reporter at The Straits Times to deputy chief executive of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), with stints as the editor of The Business Times, managing editor of English and Malay newspapers and editor-in-chief of the English/Malay/Tamil Media Group along the way.

Mr Daniel graduated from University College, Oxford, with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in engineering sciences and economics. He also has a Master's in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

SPH on Friday announced that Mr Daniel, 63, will retire on Sept 1, but continue as a part-time consultant, assisting new chief executive Ng Yat Chung in managing some SPH subsidiaries and projects.

"I loved newspaper work, news reporting, writing columns. When I went to The Business Times, I loved editing, and then when I became managing editor of the group, I loved it too. And when you love what you do, time really flies," he said.

Still, Mr Daniel, who is married with two children, is looking forward to slowing down, after having worked at full pelt for the past three decades, helping the company through various transformations.

"I would say that what I'm proudest of is our transformation from a largely print company to a multimedia group with adjacent businesses, from radio to book publishing to events," he said. "When the digital revolution hit us, a lot of people said this is the end of newspapers, but I always saw it as an opportunity for us to become stronger."

He applies that same optimism even to a particular moment in his career that catapulted him to the headlines.

In 1993, Mr Daniel, then editor of The Business Times, was convicted, along with four other men, of breaching the Official Secrets Act (OSA). The case stemmed from a June 29, 1992, article in which BT quoted the Government's flash estimate for the year's second-quarter economic performance a few days before it was officially released.

"It's now established that breaches of the OSA are a statutory offence. The law is now very clear," he noted. "So in a sense that was the case that was used to make that a precedent. I don't look at it as a blight on my career."

In a statement on Friday, SPH chairman Lee Boon Yang thanked Mr Daniel for his years of service.

"He has served with distinction in many different positions over the years. We are most grateful to Patrick for his readiness to continue supporting the group by accepting the appointment of consultant and to steer several of our joint ventures and subsidiaries."

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