Former SPH Digital Editor Felix Soh dies at 63

Former SPH Digital Editor Felix Soh dies at 63
(Back row, from left) ST digital editor Eugene Leow, STOMP editor Azhar Kasman, AsiaOne editor Adrian Tay, ST content and data analytics editor Ernest Luis with (front row, from left) Systems support specialists Nur’ Ain Ahmad and Fitri Farina Mahat, and Mr Felix Soh, Digital media editor of Singapore Press Holdings's (SPH) English and Malay newspapers division in this file photo. Mr Soh died of pneumonia on Sunday morning.

SINGAPORE - The former editor of Singapore Press Holding (SPH) Digital Division's Digital Media Group (DMG), which oversees online and mobile products such as AsiaOne, STOMP, and SPH Razor, has died of pneumonia on Sunday morning.

Mr Felix Soh, 63, passed away at home. He was unresponsive when his wife tried to wake him up at 10am, The Straits Times said in an earlier report. On-scene paramedics later pronounced him dead.

Before his last appointment as DMG Editor, the veteran journalist held key appointments in The Straits Times such as the News Editor, Foreign Editor, and then Deputy Editor of the paper. He was also the Consulting Editor of My Paper.

Mr Soh was also the founding member and board member of the Asia News Network, which is a network of 21 media groups in Asian cities organised to provide avenues for cooperation and to optimise coverage of major news events in the region.

Under his leadership, a slew of digital initiatives was launched, helping SPH gear up for the challenges in the new media environment, such as citizen journalism website STOMP.

For Mr Azhar Kasman, the Editor of STOMP, it was Mr Soh who interviewed and hired him for this job, which made his passing a personal loss.

"It was his vision that led him to conceptualise and launch Stomp in 2006, and turn it into the groundbreaking and multi-award winning citizen journalism website it is today," Mr Azhar said.

Within a year of its launch, STOMP received over 70 million page views, and bagged gold at the 7th WAN-IFRA Media Awards as the Best in Online Media category, beating bigger and more established names in the process, like Australia's Fairfax Media.

Mr Azhar added: "He had a way of simplifying difficult decisions and that is one of the most valuable lessons I learnt from him."

Besides leaving a permanent mark in Singaporeans' lexicon through his creation of STOMP, Mr Soh also spearheaded the launch of video network SPH Razor in 2009, which was then known as The Straits Times RazorTV.

Describing Mr Soh as the 'architect' of SPH Razor, Mr Jonathan Ng, Editor of SPH Razor said that Mr Soh was often far ahead of digital media trends for someone in his age group.

"He saw the importance of embracing multimedia, especially video, when most print organisations were desperately trying to protect the print workflow by shunning digital media," Mr Ng said.

AsiaOne's popular food website SoShiok.com was another of Mr Soh's ideas.

Under his guidance, SoShiok.com became Singapore's most popular food website barely five months after it was launched in May 2008, and continues to hit several milestones, building on Mr Soh's legacy. The SoShiok website and apps recently underwent a major revamp in 2014 and picked up a Silver award in the food & beverage category of the Davey Awards in the same year.

AsiaOne editor Mr Adrian Tay remembers him as a tough but fair taskmaster. "He had very exacting standards in everything under his charge. When it came to new digital projects, he was always in the know of the latest trends and would expect the team to deliver work of the highest quality."

Mr Soh had been suffering from motor neuron disease, which causes nerve cells to break down gradually and die, and retired in November 2014.

"When he retired last year, the team from SPH's Digital Media Group produced a farewell video for him.  It was an emotional farewell, as he had set up the department way back in 2007," Mr Tay said.

"The entire DMG is saddened by his passing."

Mr Soh leaves his wife Mrs Genevieve Soh, 58, son Shaun, 33, and daughter Alana, 30. His wake will be held at Block 315, Shunfu Road from Sunday evening. He will be cremated on Wednesday.

grongloh@sph.com.sg

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