Malaysian businessman jumps into both print and online news

Malaysian businessman jumps into both print and online news
Mr Clement Hii Chii Kok wants to zoom in on news debates or analyses, instead of just focusing on breaking news.

SINGAPORE - Publishers around the world are wondering whether to pare down their investments in print media and go big instead on online news. Malaysian businessman Clement Hii Chii Kok has chosen to get his feet wet in both.

He launched weekly business newspaper Focus Malaysia 10 months ago and, early this month, launched a weekly lifestyle paper, The Heat, which focuses on socio-economic issues.

Last month, Tan Sri Hii launched news website, in the midst of surging journalist salaries in Malaysia as several media groups expanded their online teams.

With some 150 editorial staff spread across the three outlets today, HCK Media - the initials are from Mr Hii's Chinese name - has become a media group to watch.

Before his recent media forays, the former journalist, who was once executive deputy chairman of The Star newspaper group, made his money in other businesses. He owns the 15-outlet cafe chain Ipoh Town Coffee and is the founder of SEGi University, one of Malaysia's biggest private colleges, with 28,000 students.

"The joke around town is that there were people with some spare cash who went and bought a football club, a Formula 1 (team), a private jet, and I went to start a media company," quipped Mr Hii, in an interview at his office in SEGi's main campus in Kota Damansara, Selangor, on Monday last week.

He said he saw "a gap" in how news is covered here. Most media groups focus on breaking news, with not enough attention being paid to debate or analysis of issues of the day.

This is because open debate on all issues started only from a few years ago, following 22 years of muted discussions during the Mahathir era. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad stepped down as premier in 2003.

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