Singapore Press Holdings' first CEO Lyn Holloway dies at 90

Former chief executive of Singapore Press Holdings Lyn Holloway (third from left) and former ST editor-in-chief Peter Lim (second from right) join former President of Singapore S R Nathan at a Straits Times Press company dinner.
Former chief executive of Singapore Press Holdings Lyn Holloway (third from left) and former ST editor-in-chief Peter Lim (second from right) join former President of Singapore S R Nathan at a Straits Times Press company dinner.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Veteran media publisher and former chief executive of Singapore Press Holdings Lyn Holloway died on Saturday night (Feb 23). He was 90.

Mr Holloway, a librarian by training, helped shape journalism in Singapore as the managing director of Times Publishing and The Straits Times Press, which he joined in 1961.

Among the many changes he oversaw was the formation of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) in 1984, through the merger of three organisations - the Singapore News and Publications Limited, Times Publishing Berhad and The Straits Times Press. It brought together the flagship newspapers of various languages under one roof.

After the merger, Mr Holloway was appointed SPH's first CEO, but resigned a year later, citing health reasons. He later became chief executive of Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.

Former ST editor-in-chief Peter Lim, a former colleague and longtime friend of Mr Holloway, described him as "a true publisher in the best traditions of Western-style English language newspaper and magazine publishing".

He straddled both the business and editorial components with ease, understood the demands of the business and that "in publishing, the editorial content is the key product", said Mr Lim, 80.

While the early days saw journalists using rickety typewriters and old furniture, Mr Holloway believed that investments in editorial were crucial to ensure quality.

Among other moves, he raised salaries, hired more staff and oversaw the set up of foreign bureaus.

He was also a skilled negotiator and "could think of ways to navigate out of difficult shores", which came in handy during difficult times.

This included tense relations between the Singapore government and media in the early 1980s, when then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew "decided that ST needed much closer monitoring and decided to send in a government team of officials to run the company," said Mr Lim.

Through a series of meetings with Mr Lee, Mr Holloway and Mr Lim managed to avoid this by suggesting that the paper instead engage the then-permanent secretary in the foreign ministry, Mr S R Nathan, as an in-house government expert instead.

Mr Nathan, who would later become President of Singapore, was appointed as executive chairman of SPH in 1984.

"Lyn left ST group's editorial and other departments much more professional than he first found them. And their people generally feeling they would miss an unusually good, friendly boss," said Mr Lim.

Mr Holloway is survived by his wife, Anne Wong-Holloway, sister Hazel Mariot and sister-in-law Suzanne Holloway.