Journalist who witnessed nation's modern history

Journalist who witnessed nation's modern history
Mr Mok as a young reporter in the early 1950s.

SINGAPORE - It was a "scoop" of sorts for 33-year-old news reporter Mok Lee Kwang when he wrote about his hopes for Mr Lee Kuan Yew, a week after the young lawyer was sworn in as Singapore's first prime minister, following the People's Action Party's landslide victory in the 1959 legislative assembly elections.

In the article titled "The Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew I Know", published in the now-defunct Chinese daily, Nanyang Siang Pau, he revealed, among other things, that he had taught Mr Lee Chinese.

He said how impressed he was to see the politician rise from "not speaking a word of Mandarin to addressing thousands in the language at rallies; from a lawyer fresh out of Cambridge to becoming Singapore's top legal eagle and from a champion of workers as their unions' adviser to becoming Singapore's first prime minister".

He concluded: "Mr Lee is only 36 years old and his future is like that of the rising sun. I wish he will continue to serve the people and be loved by all forever!"

Today, China-born Mr Mok, who came here with his grandmother from Guangdong province when he was 11, is 87 and frail.

He spent nearly 40 years in journalism, retiring in 1987 as chief editor of Lianhe Zaobao, the morning daily formed by the merger of Nanyang Siang Pau and Sin Chew Jit Poh in 1982.

Mr Mok's admiration for Singapore's Mr Lee would be among the topics discussed at a public forum on the retired journalist's life and work at the Chui Huay Lim Club on Sunday afternoon.

Two former journalists who worked under him, lawyer Ung Gim Sei, 74, a former chief of the Chinese Newspapers' Division at Singapore Press Holdings, and former Lianhe Zaobao reporter Chen Ting, 56, are among four speakers at the forum organised by the Teochew social club.

The others are retired bank manager and writer Tan Suan Poh, 71, who is president of the Tropical Literature and Art Club, and Mr Mok's son, architect Mok Wei Wei, 56, who will talk about his father as a family man.

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