Former Berita Harian editor Guntor Sadali dies at age 69

As one of the pioneer journalists behind Berita Harian, Mr Guntor Sadali was involved in various changes in the newsroom. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - The former editor of Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian (BH), Mr Guntor Sadali, died at home on Wednesday morning at the age of 69.

His daughter, Ms Winda Guntor, said he died of hypertensive heart disease.

Describing her father as a kind-hearted man, she said he always put the needs of others before his own.

"My dad was a man of few words and was very soft-spoken, but he was very passionate about things he cared about," said the 39-year-old.

About 100 people were at his home in Punggol before the funeral.

They included former senior minister of state Zainul Abidin Rasheed, who is currently Singapore's non-resident ambassador to Kuwait, former senior parliamentary secretary Hawazi Daipi, as well as Mr Abdul Razak Hassan Maricar, the former chief executive of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

BH editor Mohamed Sa’at Abdul Rahman, 60, said: “Guntor’s passing is a big loss not just to journalism in Singapore, but also to the Malay community here. I learnt a lot from him in my BH career. He gave me many opportunities to grow in my job.

“I remember him fondly as a cool, calm figure, always composed even under pressure. He will be sorely missed.”

A veteran journalist with 42 years of experience, Mr Guntor spent 15 years as the editor of BH before stepping down in 2012, following which he served as the paper's editorial adviser until his retirement in 2014.

As one of the pioneer journalists behind the Malay daily, he was involved in various changes in the newsroom, which included the broadsheet branching off from its Malaysian counterpart in 1972.

The two newspapers had previously shared content with each other and were considered one entity.

As editor of the only Malay-language newspaper in Singapore, Mr Guntor was a strong proponent of empowering the Malay/Muslim community.

In 1999, he introduced the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award, to honour role models in the community.

When a  terror network was found here in 2001 and 2002, he made an impassioned call for moderate Muslims to make their voices heard.

In an interview with the Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (Rima) in 2013, he shared that it was important to highlight both the achievements and weaknesses of the community.

He held the belief that Malay/Muslims in Singapore needed to tackle these issues head-on.

Mr Cheong Yip Seng, former editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English and Malay Newspapers Division, remembered Mr Guntor as a serious-minded reporter and editor.

"He had to deal with sensitive issues affecting the Malay community. This he did while bearing in mind the bigger picture, the national interest," said Mr Cheong, 78.

Mr Guntor had also sat on the board of several organisations, including the Housing Board (HDB), National Council for Problem Gambling and Malay Heritage Centre.

He was also one of 50 individuals from the media industry inducted into the Singapore Media Industry Hall of Fame, which was launched in June this year.

Mr Guntor leaves behind his wife, three children and six grandchildren.

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