IN addition to running the very successful Sin Chew Daily, since 2007 the Chinese newspaper management and staff have carried out the “Adopt A Child” education project to help poor students in more than 17 Cambodian provinces.
More than 1,500 students have received a $100 scholarship per year so far through the Sin Chew Foundation and donations from Sin Chew readers.
Total funds received so far by readers and distributed to needy students is more than $150,000.
In an effort to help students of the Chinese language improve their fluency, the Cambodia Sin Chew Daily also publishes weekly student periodical Xie Hai with a discounted price and also distributed free to poor students in the provinces.
THE largest-circulation Chinese newspaper in Phnom Penh, the Cambodia Sin Chew Daily, celebrated its 10th anniversary on November 8 at the Naga World hotel with more than 400 guests from the government, embassies, business and the local Chinese community.
Cambodia’s Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith was on hand to cut the cake and join in the toasting and celebration of the success along with Senior minister Veng Sereyvuth, the President of BAT Kong Triv and Tan Sri Datuk Sir Tiong Hiew King, Chairman of Media Chinese International.
Sir Tiong received an honourary knighthood from the Queen of England in 2009 for his work in Papua New Guinea and made a special appearance at Naga World Hotel. Sir Tiong and his staff helped answer some questions about the remarkable global reach of Chinese newspapers owned by the Rimbunan Hijau Group:
How many Chinese newspapers does the Rimbunan Hijau Group own and where are they located and what are their circulations?
Tan Sri Datuk Sir Tiong Hiew King and his family owns approximately 55 percent of Media Chinese International Limited, which is a company listed on both Bursa Malaysia and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
MCIL has five newspapers under its portfolio, namely Sin Chew Daily, China Press, Guang Ming Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau and Ming Pao Daily. The first four papers are located in Malaysia, whilst Ming Pao Daily is published in Hong Kong and North America. Further, Sin Chew Daily also manages the content of Cambodia’s Sin Chew Daily and Harian Indonesia in the region. Their circulation is as follows: As at December 31, 2009, (per Audit Bureau of Circulation): Sin Chew Daily – 402,800 China Press – 242,429 Guang Ming Daily -123,048. Both Nanyang Siang Pau and Ming Pao Daily no longer submit their numbers to ABC. However, the group in Malaysia has about 850,000 copies daily in circulation. In Hong Kong, Ming Pao Daily is a niche paper for the intellectuals and has been voted as the most credible Chinese newspaper. By going global we hope MCIL can present an Asian view of world issues which is normally dominated by Western perspectives.
Can your group be seen as a homegrown Malaysian operation which branched out to other places?
Yes, as 80 percent of the group sits predominantly in Malaysia. The Sin Chew Daily is a newspaper that was incorporated in 1929 in Malaysia. With four Chinese newspapers under its wing, it is a market leader not only in Malaysia, but in Southeast Asia. Using our expertise, the group has branched out to manage the content of Cambodia’s Sin Chew in 2000 and in Indonesia in 2006. It is not easy for a local newspaper to leave its shores and build its brand overseas as most newspapers strive on local support. However, our newspapers have managed to break the barrier and bring its brand abroad.
How important is your Cambodia operation? Are you pleased with the success of it so far?
As the motto of our company is to promote Chinese literacy and Chinese culture, all our operations whether onshore or abroad which help promote these values are of equal importance to us. We are pleased with the expansion of Cambodia’s Sin Chew as it has managed to garner a spot as a leading Chinese paper. Nevertheless, we will strive to improve it in order to achieve greater heights.
What is the common denominator of all your newspapers? What kind of stories do your readers like? How can non-Chinese speakers best understand the niche you fill?
The common denominator of all our newspapers is reaching out to the Chinese community. Our newspapers are known for their credible and independent stance. As our newspapers are segmented to meet the different demands and different psychographics of the readers we have papers which are positioned as mainstream dailies, some focusing on social news, some focusing on business news and some known for their entertainment and sports news. Non-Chinese speakers can get a flavour of our news reporting and commentaries from one of our websites: www.mysinchew.com. In addition we have translated a lot of our material to English for consumption of the non-Chinese speakers.
Are you an old newspaperman yourself? What are some of the trials and tribulations you’ve experienced over the years?
Tan Sri Datuk Sir Tiong is not a newspaper man. The newspapers are managed by professional managers, but with him as chairman setting the strategies for the group. He fully understands the need for the editorial department of any newspaper to be independent from its owners in order to gain credibility. He was born to a poor family in Sibu Sarawak. He started out in the timber industry and has worked very hard to be the owner of many conglomerates.
In terms of serving the public with information – are you able to have an influence in civic affairs? How do your newspapers advocate the public?
The newspapers in the group play their role as a fourth estate by acting as a check and balance for any policies implemented by any government. The newspapers will play roles in nation building in their country, but they will also serve their readers and the nation by commenting on policies that do not seem to serve the nation at large. In addition, the newspapers will also compliment the government when it has carried out its role well.
What’s your own story about how you became involved as a young man in newspapers?
Tan Sri Datuk Sir Tiong’s foray in the print media started when he was first approached by the management of Sin Chew Daily in 1988 to purchase the ailing paper. He has not looked back since and now he is the proud owner of a global media company.
What does the future of Cambodia look like to you? Stability and growth? Do you see Sin Chew as an agent for positive change in Cambodia?
We have achieved much but our success would not have been possible without the stable political and economic environment. As such, we foresee that the Cambodian government will continue to maintain a stable political environment and promoting many economic reforms thus resulting in a flourishing economy. The opening of the Cambodian stock exchange next year is another economic development to look forward to as it may spur economic growth. Sin Chew Cambodia will contribute to this development by serving as an agent of positive change through education and cultural exchange to develop a broader understanding of cultural, socio-economic and business issues among the Chinese communities in Cambodia. Further, we hope that through our news reporting other nations in the region would have a better insight into the economy of Cambodia and thus kindle their increase to participate in the economic interest in Cambodia.
What’s the total combined readership of all the newspapers your group owns?
Ming Pao Daily HK – 441,000 (1/ 1/2009 to 31/12/09)
Sin Chew Daily – 1,179,000 (NMR Q2 2010)
China Press – 902,000 (NMR Q2 2010)
Guang Ming Daily – 299,000 (NMR Q2 2010)
Nanyang Siang Pau – 155,000 (NMR Q2 2010)