SINGAPORE - As part of SPH Media’s leadership renewal and succession planning, Malay-language news publication Berita Harian will get a new editor from June 1.
Mr Mohd Nazry Mokhtar, deputy editor of Berita Harian, will take on the top job.
The current editor, Mr Mohd Sa’at Abdul Rahman, 62, will retire and take on a new appointment as senior consultant (special projects) at the paper.
He will also continue as president of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.
Mr Nazry, 58, worked at Berita Harian as a journalist for 13 years until 2008. After a stint away from the newsroom, he returned as the paper’s deputy editor in 2013.
Since then, he has overseen the development of the daily’s print and digital contents and assisted in setting the strategic direction of the paper, engaging stakeholders and laying the groundwork for a newsroom transformation.
As Berita Harian’s editor, Mr Nazry will oversee all editorial functions, including the newsroom transformation efforts, and continue its digitalisation efforts.
Mr Sa’at’s retirement comes after an illustrious 35-year career, having started out as a journalist in 1988. He became Berita Harian’s news editor in 1999 and its editor in 2012.
Through the years, he has made notable and significant changes to adapt the paper to the transformation in the media landscape, and pushed for digitalisation efforts to reach more readers and widen the audience base.
He also refreshed the Berita Harian brand and its website, which now enjoys about 900,000 visits a month.
Under his tenure, there were various initiatives to connect with Berita Harian’s readers on multiple platforms, including starting the Berita Harian app and infotainment video programmes such as the Berita Minggu Show and Nadi Kota.
Another successful project was the 2018 launch of #NoTapis, a podcast that highlights topics of interest to the Malay community, such as religion, lifestyle and celebrity interviews.
It was the first time that Berita Harian had experimented with audio content. Almost 300 episodes later, #NoTapis now has more than 150,000 total downloads.
Reflecting on his Berita Harian journey in an interview with the paper, Mr Sa’at said he has had a fulfilling career, with its highs and lows.
He was particularly affected when he had to let “his dedicated and capable staff” go when the newsroom had to be downsized.
“From more than 70 staff, the number went down to around 40 even though at that time, we had a lot of work to do, including efforts to digitalise our content. But we still tried our best to fulfil our mission,” he said.
Still, Mr Sa’at looked back fondly at his time at the paper and said he was grateful to the “old guard” such as former minister Mah Bow Tan, who took a chance on him.
Back in the 1980s, Mr Mah was chief executive officer of The Singapore Monitor, a now-defunct English-language newspaper.
Mr Sa’at said: “He opened the door for me to enter the field of writing and journalism, even though at that time, I did not have a university degree.”
Mr Wong Wei Kong, editor-in-chief of SPH Media’s English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, said that Mr Sa’at had set a strong base for the paper. He added that amid an evolving media landscape, the newsroom must also continue to adapt.
“Berita Harian is a trusted source of news for our Malay community. Nazry is well placed to continue to build on the strong foundation that Sa’at has laid, and drive Berita Harian’s transformation efforts to enhance our readers’ experience,” said Mr Wong.