Star Media Group adviser Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate in Leadership from Limkokwing University during the Institution’s graduation ceremony for over a thousand students from 70 countries at the Plenary Hall of Putrajaya International Convention Centre on 22 June 2019.
President and CEO of the National Professors Council, Prof Datuk Dr Raduan Che Rose, read out the citation for the conferment which was attributed to Datuk Seri Wong’s extraordinary contribution to shaping the media landscape of Malaysia and his inspirational leadership guiding the next generation of media practitioners.
The Honorary Doctorate was presented to him by the Founder President of the University, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr. Limkokwing.
“It is not for myself but for other journalists and colleagues, as well as for recognising the profession,” Datuk Seri Wong humbly told the hall in his inspiring acceptance speech witnessed by the graduating class of 2019.
YAM Tengku Arif Temenggong Pahang Tengku Fahd Mua’adzam Shah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah was the Guest of Honour at the ceremony.
The Pahang prince received a token of recognition from the University for his passionate involvement in environmental conservation through the Sultan Ahmad Shah Enviornmental Trust which he co-founded and currently manages.
Also receiving tokens of appreciation from the University were Puan Sri Maniseh Adam, the Patron of the Pink Ribbon Wellness Foundation, for exemplifying courage in adversity, and Dr. Sarasijam Nair for her passionate advocacy of global peace.
Over 30 Years in the Media Industry
Datuk Seri Wong’s lifelong passion for journalism began as a regular contributor to his school newspaper. It was during this period that he regularly started writing letters to the editor of The Star, the most widely-circulated English-language newspaper in Malaysia. This was the beginning of a lifelong love affair that would take him on a journey across the globe.
He joined The Star in 1981 as a cadet reporter in Penang right after Form 6, with a salary of RM300. He then attended Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History and returned to the company when he graduated in 1984. The talented young rookie reporter quickly caught the attention of senior editors who trusted him with major news assignments. By 2008, at the age of 46, he was appointed Group Chief Editor, the youngest ever to hold the position at the prestigious news publication.
He has received numerous awards and recognitions including the Best Journalist Award for news features, awarded by the National Press Institute in 2003 for his investigative article on Malaysian terrorists and their secret arms training in Afghanistan.
He was the first Malaysian to be elected to the board of the Paris-based World Editors Forum, and he also chaired the Asia News Network which is an alliance of 21 media groups across Asia. In 2014, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in the Media Industry by the World Chinese Economic Forum.
Role Model in Academia and Corporate Leadership
Datuk Seri Wong was appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Star Publications in 2013, when he went on to admirably lead the company during a tumultuous period which saw a rapidly evolving news media landscape and an unprecedented political shift that saw a change of government for the first time in Malaysia’s history. It was an exceptionally challenging task which saw him having to balance his instincts as a journalist with his responsibility to shareholders as a corporate leader.
On 1 January 2019, he retired after 34 years with The Star, but still remains as Group Adviser on editorial and corporate relation matters. “Wong leaves big shoes to be filled. He was a hands-on leader, having climbed through the ranks at The Star,” a former employee was quoted as saying upon news of his retirement.
He is currently a director at the Asian Leadership and Strategic Institute, and in May 2019 became an Honourary Vice President at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
Throughout his illustrious career, his innovative work and principled actions have consistently reflected his strong advocacy of moderation, commonalities and positive values in pursuit of creating a sustainably well-balanced society. Datuk Seri Wong continues to write a weekly column in The Sunday Star called “On the Beat” and a fortnightly travel column called “Off the Beat.”