Ex-journalist 'died wanting to do his job'

Former Straits Times journalist G. Subhas always had an eye for a story, and it cost him his life during the race riots in 1964.

Aged 24 then, he was riding to a friend's house on July 22 when he saw clashes taking place near Arab Street, said his younger brother G. Suprakash, 60.

He stopped his Norton motorcycle and was taking photographs of the scene when several rioters set upon him. One of them swung a sharpened metal rod that was curved into a hook at him.

"Those days, they didn't wear crash helmets and it hit a spot on his head and went through," said Mr Suprakash, a businessman.

"That was typical of him, to put himself in the fray. He died wanting to do his job."

The mob also ripped away Mr Subhas' camera, but scattered when police arrived. He was taken to the General Hospital with the rod still in his head, and the wound proved fatal - doctors pronounced him dead at 8.45pm.

His family is running an obituary in The Straits Times tomorrow to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death.

Mr Subhas was one of 22 killed during the racial riots over two five-day periods in July and September 1964 that erupted after Singapore merged with the Federation of Malaysia.

Besides reporting for The Straits Times, Mr Subhas also wrote for the Singapore Free Press in the early 1960s.

Former journalist Austin Morais, 79, who worked with Mr Subhas for a year, said: "He was very creative, very hardworking and a dedicated journalist. He would go for the news and nothing would stop him."

Mr Subhas had another passion: music. He played the guitar, joined a band, took part in talentime contests and even sang on radio station Rediffusion.

He was known as Singapore's "Calypso King" for his renditions of Caribbean tunes by American singer Harry Belafonte on Rediffusion, said Mr Suprakash, the seventh of eight siblings. Mr Subhas was the fifth.

Mr Suprakash still misses his brother, who injected the soul into every gathering when he sang. Friends and family still croon the tunes he used to sing when they get together now.

"How not to miss him?" he said. "He lived only 24 years, but even today we see him as someone larger than life."

This article was first published on July 21, 2014.
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