Saturday, December 09, 2006

Falling readership and "Sick" Burgess

Free fall. The Malay Mail and The Sunday/Weekend Mail readership numbers plunged 36 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively between October last year and September this year. It's something no journalist or editor in this country had ever accomplished in such a short time.
But then Kalimullah Hassan and machai Syed Faisal Albar are not journalists.
Kali's other machai, Hishamuddin Aun, had pushed hard for the "Latin" face-lift Berita Harian had last year. The company spent a six-figure sum (in US dollars) for some Mexicans to come up with that new look.
The result: a 21 per cent drop in readership for Berita Harian and a 14 per cent fall for Berita Minggu. [click here to read the report]

Oriental Daily, seen as the most independent of the Chinese papers, saw the biggest gain in readership numbers. Harian Metro, which plays up crime and sex stories and usually throw out political news unless it involves sex scandal involving politicians, saw a 24 per cent rise.
The surprise performer is NST, which saw a 0.3 per cent increase in readership. But rival The Star, already enjoying a bigger circulation, saw a 9 per cent jump in readership to leave Kali's NST further behind.

Note 1: The plagiarism row involving the NST's group editor and the suspension of the Weekend Mail happened in October and November, respectively, and, therefore, did not influence this latest readership survey.
Note 2: If editors like Syed Nadzri and Yushaimi Yahya are allowed a free hand, expect to see a serious rise in the readership numbers for both the NST and the Malay Mail next year.

p.s. It is learnt that Simon Burgess (read posting here) is now with FHM Malaysia working as Editor. Having been appointed prior to the Weekend Mail fiasco. MediaCorp, which is the Singapore-based publisher of FHM, decided to go ahead with "Sick" Burgess working under a pseudonym! A source said: "I'm not sure how long this subterfuge will work, though, seeing as he will have to show his face at many events".


  1. Anonymous9:32 pm

    Was the Information Minister's comment today not to totally rely on the ABC figures really aimed at advertisers or a veiled instruction to those who might want to evaluate a particular newspaper prior to a possible merger?

  2. Anonymous9:36 pm

    It is of no surprise to see the numbers. It will take a lot more than just a free hand to improvise the sales of Malay Mail. NST is no where compared to The Star, despite the fact the former has got so much to offer.

    Make Malay Mail an afternoon paper, filled with latest news on local stuff and sports. Also, pls do away with the 'terbalik' style coz it's still giving me a headache!

    As for Simon Burgess, it is in my humble opinion he is best suited for the magazine industry, an industry where having a white man, despite having no credentials, is considered 'hip and happening'.
    There is another local advertising company who actually hired a young white punk as part of their team- and bluntly aknowledged he was hired because he is white. I guess it's due to our colonial past we see this white people as more superior but fact remains they are as human as us all.

    p/s: Rocky, watch 'The Road to Guantanamo' and you'll know what I mean.

  3. Anonymous9:58 pm

    Bro Rocky

    You already stated in your blog that Kalimullah and Syed Faisal are not journalists. Presumably, they are mercenaries!! Am I right?

    Since both are not journalsits, you cannot blame them for the wrong things that they have done as editors or chief of the papers. For example, you cannot blame Kalimullah for lying in his June 11 article. Kalimullah was jsut doling his job as mercenary to make his boss look very good even if the majority of Malaysians think ill of ABB.

    So Rocky, please don't blame Kalimullah ecah time he screws up something for his own benefits becasue he is not a journalist!!! You knew that, I knew that and there are many others in and out of NST knew that.

  4. Anonymous10:11 pm

    this is the report poster "doy" meant. i care not what zainudin mydin has to say because what he hasn't got anything clever to say, really. what got me thinking is that bernama took the trouble to call him for a comment (or did the minister call bernama to provide it with an unsolicited comment?). since the disinformation ministry headed by mydin had given the malaysia press institute (headed by bernama chief azman ujang) 5 million ringgit, the minister is getting a lot of coverage. azman ujang also gave him the previously coveted tokoh wartawan negara title.
    a lot more is coming that way, mark my words.

    and as for the readership status for the various dailies, it is interesting to note that oriental daily's readers have gone up drastically. if the publishers decide to print a translated copy (into bahasa or english, orboth) i think they'll do well also. a good rag is a good rag.

    malay mail & nst, sorry lah. i don't quite agree with you, brother rocky. your two friends are going to screw the papers more or they arent going to be able to do anything much. thank you.

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 (Bernama) -- Statistics released by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) should not be taken as the main benchmark by advertising companies, Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said.
    He said although Chinese newspapers had the highest circulation figures in the country, they were read only by one community.
    "ABC must release figures showing the newspaper with the highest circulation in terms of readership by all races.
    "Only with the statistics showing the readership by all races can be a fair benchmark to all newspapers to enable assessments to be made by advertisers," he told Bernama when contacted Saturday.

  5. Anonymous11:03 pm

    Leave it to a politician to twist a fact or slant his comment to suit what he wants people to believe or not to believe.

    Come to think of it, except for the star, which may have gained readership partly from other papers, we see a general downward trend in general readership - more people are reading alternative media, don't you think?

  6. Anonymous12:14 am

    SICK is the word Bru. Sick papers, sick pseudo editors, sick foreign experts.

    The sickness is spreading like plague.

    Over at Bernama, outsiders are being recommended to replace retiring GM and EIC who are Bernama born and bred.

    I think Khalid will soon be replaced by an outsider at Utusan.

    We must thank this sickness to our quick-hand PM.

  7. Anonymous12:43 am

    For now, I really hope NSTP to go bankrupt so that all the editors and journalists have no choice but to compete with your bro, in the open world...

  8. Anonymous11:09 am

    dear Rocky,

    there is a "hidden" humour in what you wrote:
    "Free fall. The Malay Mail and The Sunday/Weekend Mail readership numbers plunged 36 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively between October last year and September this year. It's something no journalist or editor in this country had ever accomplished in such a short time.
    But then Kalimullah Hassan and machai Syed Faisal Albar are not journalists."

    Is one supposed to assume that the "Free Fall" of readership has previously been achieved by local journalists/editors but just that it took "them" a tad longer?!?!

    There is much truth in this, huh?

  9. Dear Anon (11:09am),

    Several other papers also suffered double-digit declines in readership: the Sun (-12%), Utusan (-13%), Nanyang (-21%), Kwong Wah (-11%), Berita Harian (-21%). They are all run by journalists.

    However, they were nowhere near the drop in readership seen by Malay Mail (-36%) and Sunday/Weekend Mail (-44%). And in the case of the Mail, I know for certain that the decline was caused because the paper was forced to become something that it was not. Kalimullah assumed that the Mail (fastest growing paper in 03) was a stumbling block for NST's growth and he could not live with the Mail's brand of journalism. He forced the management to revamp the Mail and turn it into an entertainment-college rag. They paid the consultants US$1 million to come up with the concept and imported magazine-based journalists to run it. It was suicide.

    Or was it murder? Take your pick.

    In Syed Faisal's case, he can tell you this is not the first time he was part of the decision-making process that has killed journalism and circulation/readership numbers. He was a strong proponent of the idea that collapsing Business Times into NST will push the latter's circulation to more than 180,000 copies a day. And he was again the strong supporter of "shrinking" the broadsheet NST into a tabloid, believing that it was the move that would give NST the desired 180,000 copies a day circulation. Syed Faisal also stood firmly behind Kali in the decision to close down the offices of Malay Mail in Ipoh, Penang, JB and Melaka so that the Mail would stop impeding the growth of the NST (that 180,000 copies-a-day dream) and its so-called offensive against the Star! Bollocks!

    But you are right. Journalists can screw up their papers too. Hishamuddin is doing a damn good job with Berita Harian.

  10. Anonymous4:35 pm

    dear Rocky,
    I'm somewhat curious by the remarkable speed and ease with which Simon Burgess got another job.
    Are there no Immigration laws, or for that matter, Inland Revenue laws, that prohibits foreigners from "job-hopping" in Malaysia?
    Normally, among a host of other issues, a work permit is only issued to a foreigner for a specific position and this position must be in a specific company.
    And, most importantly, this work permit is not "transferable" to other positions/companies. In which case a new work permit must be applied for!
    Maybe someone should inform the authorities about this matter.

  11. Anonymous4:41 pm

    I wouldn't put my money on Yushaimi Yahaya achieving anything. You think he is good editor material only because he is your machai and buddy. Yushaimi at the helm of a sinking ship will only speed up the process. And when he's under water he will still think the world of himself. I feel sorry for the Malay Mail if Yushaimi is all the management can offer.

  12. Anonymous6:12 pm


    Compared to MZul, Yushaimi is miles better. I agree he is too green to be the Group Editor of Malay Mail but that MZul guy was far worst, only worked with magazines for a couple of years. Yushaimi has done stints at New Straits Times and has more than 10 years with Malay Mail and has trained with/under many editors including Nadeswaran and Frankie, two great journalists. Ok, Yushaimi is NOT YET extraordinary but you have to put in many years more before people can judge him. What's important is the guy is brave and honest (also does not plagiarise) and works harder than he parties. They should give him a chance and show what he can do.

  13. Anonymous9:58 pm

    Dear Rocky

    Please do nto worry. Burgess canstay here even for many years without WOrk Permit as long as Kalimullah and Khairy approved. Both are de facto PM and DPM. So what is the problems. Burgess is here to do a dirty job that's all.

    This is a Boleh Land under the Boleh PM.

  14. Anonymous11:10 pm

    did u know that the following frontpage article was an almost exact copy of a Singaporean Straits Times piece?

    Forbidden pleasures of the Karimun Islands
    By Sim Bak Heng

    PRISTINE white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and a place known for
    eco-tourism. An ideal holiday destination? Not quite, as SIM BAK HENG
    finds out on a visit to the Indonesian Karimun Islands.
    LOCATED off southern Sumatra, the Karimun Islands attract hordes of
    Malaysian and Singaporean men. The reason: cheap sex.
    The staging point of this booming flesh trade is Tanjung Balai, the
    capital of the Karimun province, which is a mere one-hour ferry ride from
    the Kukup jetty in Pontian, Johor.
    Upon arrival, touts besiege the visitors with offers of exclusive "sex
    holiday packages", where the men get to pick and choose the girls to
    fulfil their sexual fantasies.
    The visitors do this in Villa Kapleng and Kampung Paya Labu in Tanjung
    Balai or Batu 16 in Tanjung Batu, where the girls are housed.
    In front of every house hangs a signboard, which reads: "Kondom Wajib
    Di Daerah Ini" (Condom is a must in this area).
    Here, girls as young as 15 readily show off their assets as the men
    come a-calling. Scantily dressed and heavily dolled up, the girls parade
    in suggestive poses before the men in the double-storey wooden terrace
    Some even engage in naughty conversations or act "nastily" with their
    prospective customers in a bid to secure a booking.
    The women are introduced by their "puppy" or pimp, who is usually an
    Indonesian Chinese or Javanese.
    "Cewek sini bersih. Lu pilih la. Tak bagus boleh ganti" (Our girls here
    are clean. Just make your choice. If not satisfied, you can get a
    replacement)," said a pimp.
    The pimps know the talents of each of their girls very well too,
    describing their individual pro-wess under the sheets.
    The girls are mainly from Java or Kalimantan in Borneo. Most of them
    were lured to the province with the promise of well-paying jobs.
    But upon arrival, the pimps take control of their lives by luring them
    into prostitution to repay debts incurred for the flight tickets and
    hotel accommodation.
    Left penniless, and far away from home, their only way out is to sell
    their bodies to clear their debts.
    Malaysians and Singaporeans make a beeline to the islands every day,
    especially during weekends and public holidays. There is an hourly ferry
    service from Kukup.
    Statistics from the Karimun Tourism office showed that 94,442
    Malaysians and 98,711 Singaporeans visited the island province last year,
    representing 99 per cent of total tourist arrivals.
    And, virtually all of these visitors go there with only one thing on
    their minds - sex - although a small number also visit relatives or
    conduct business.
    The geo-political advantage of Karimun explains why the island province
    is such an attraction for men.
    Social unrest in southern Thailand has forced many men to forget about
    Hadyai and Golok, while the preference to trade in the Singapore dollar
    in Batam and Bintan Islands has made them less attractive.
    The proximity of Tanjung Balai, just an hour from Kukup, has also made
    it an attractive proposition to these visitors.
    And, of course, the girls here come cheap.
    For as little as 230,000 rupiah (RM93), one can enjoy the services of a
    girl for 24 hours. But the charges can double on weekends and public
    holidays, depending on demand.
    Even virgins and pregnant women are available.
    Villa Kapleng is often the preferred choice of customers as it is a
    mere 3km from Tanjung Balai, while Kampung Paya Labu is 13km away.
    Some 1,500 prostitutes work in these two settlements.
    The men get to pick the girls the moment they arrive in the first ferry
    from Kukup at 8.30am.
    Once the selection is made, the girls escort the men to hotels in
    Tanjung Balai town, where they offer their services.
    Weekday customers are mainly retirees while the weekend customers are a
    mix of both the young and the old. Most of them are retired businessmen,
    farmers, fishermen and Malaysians working in Singapore.
    Usually, those who want to spend a weekend will board the first two
    ferries on Saturday morning and return the next morning.
    They usually travel to the Karimun Islands in groups of three or four
    people although there are individual travellers, who are mainly
    A tour agent in Pontian, identified as Hazib, said he used to take
    tourists to the islands before but these days, most preferred to travel
    on their own.
    A frequent visitor to the islands, Hazib, in his 60s, said he went to
    Tanjung Balai at least twice a month just to "release tension".
    He usually goes with two close friends, all from Batu Pahat.
    "The pimps will call me when there are new girls. I will take the first
    ferry to go there the next day," he said.
    Another visitor, a retired businessman, said he would usually tell his
    family that he had overnight mahjong sessions outstation.
    "My friends and I usually go there in the morning and return the next
    "As we are childhood friends, we usually gang up to lie in case our
    wives call us to know our whereabouts.
    "Last time, we used to go to Hadyai very often. But the 12-hour bus
    trip is tiring and is not worth the effort. We heard about Tanjung Balai
    two years ago and since then, it has been our secret paradise.
    "The girls are fantastic. Their service is excellent. More importantly,
    their service is cheap."
    The Karimun Islands are also known for traditional massage and foot
    reflexology. The service is especially popular in Jalan Pramuka.
    Again, customers can choose their masseurs from a photo album. But
    often, this is offered as a value-added service to men looking for sex.
    Apart from the sex trade, the Karimun Islands have very little to offer
    by way of tourist attractions.
    Most islanders work as farmers or fishermen. Because of low wages, many
    opt to work in Malaysia, often illegally.

    someone can check with the ST and see if they have publised a similar article....

    i read the original ST article a few months before this one and was shocked to see it in the ST without any credit....

  15. Anonymous2:16 am

    anon who wrote about sim bak heng's article and accused him of plagiarism .. don't you know that plagiarism is NOT a crime in new straits times since the group editor also loves to plagiarise mitch albom's work.

    if really sim bak heng had plagiarised the straits times article, may be breandon albom will personally pin a meal on the lapel of his shirt and shortlist him for promotion next year!

    in order to increase the readership of the paper, all new straits times writers are allowed and even encouraged to plagiarise. if they copy from singapore papers, they may get bonus points, maybe a peck on the cheek from brendon albom.

    there is also a possibility that it was straits times singapore who copied from sim bak heng. in fact, the more i think the more i am sure that it was singapore who copied malaysian nst story. breandon studied in singapore and trained under singapore straits times so i am sure it was them who copied sim bak heng.

    meaning, tough luck, sim. you did not plagiarise therefore no promotion for you next year. take the vss, maybe can get.

  16. Anonymous2:20 pm

    Why must all of you slamdunk Kali, Syed Faisal and Hishamuddin for the rapid decline of NST and Malay Mail.

    Blame it on Rocky! His consistent barrage against these three NST stooges has caused them to be so afraid of making mistakes that they dared not made any major moves to turn around the ailing NST and Malay Mail, lest they be bombarded by many more of Rocky's missiles.

    Stop this nonsense, Rocky! Let Kali, Syed Faisal and Hishamuddin and even Datuk Manja die the natural death. Please don't torture them anymore. They are already "dead", at least in the bedroom. Give them back their manhood!

  17. Anonymous5:22 pm


    aku meluat is right.

    the reality is NO ONE reads the NST except for their own reporters (also not sure), school children and civil servants....

    maybe u should start writing about stuff that are non-related to your enemies, since they are also prone to self-destruction.

  18. Anonymous11:41 am

    To ex-mm reader:

    Wow, Yushaimi suddenly looks like the best and most suitable candidate for MM Editor, just because M.Zul f++cked up his brief tenure there.

    What a joke.

    Yushaimi is, at best, an Assistant News Editor. Many will disagree with me, though...

  19. Anonymous11:06 pm

    bottomline is whoever the editor, he has a job to do and deliver he must.
    u may not like someone or his face but if he can do the job why not. no need to get personal when it comes to business.
    if he can't then out he goes. simple as that. which is why there is such a thing as kpi's being introduced.
    just my 2 sens.

  20. Anonymous1:10 am

    Someone said: ...u may not like someone or his face but if he can do the job why not. no need to get personal when it comes to business.... just my 2 sens...

    I say: Worth less than 1 sen.

    No, it has nothing to do with me (or whoever here) not liking someone or his face.

    And no, I wasn't being personal.

    The guy really is not fit to helm the newspaper, yet. Period.

  21. Anonymous11:36 pm

    Simon is with FHM but he is not being inked as the ed but as a 'consultant' due to the weekend mail fiasco. (word on the street says that MediaCorp is worried that linking Simon with FHM might draw unwanted queries from duh)

    Ironic seeing that MediaCorp chose
    an expat to handle the mag but yet opted not for him to be featured as the 'ed' in an official capacity but yet officially paid as one. Sweet deal if you ask me. I wished I was white.

    As for being able to attend functions, Simon will apparently 'grace' the next fhm event which is slated to be 'Girl Next Door', which surprise, surprise happens to be an event where girls will go on parade in some sort of beauty pageant. The wonders never cease....

  22. Anonymous11:16 am

    Sick Burgess may be "gracing" the next FHM event, but as any editor in town knows, he will have to show his face at advertisers' events as well. You can not simply send a junior writer to do an editor's job. everyone in the magazine industry knows that attending an advertiser's "do" is not about the story, it's about face time. So sending a 22-year-old writer just won't cut it in many cases. The advertiser wants to see the editor. So Sick Burgess will have to step up. (maybe he could get his buddy M Zul to come back to FHM as a consultant's assistant)

  23. Anonymous4:43 pm

    The new FHM has one Michael Chiang listed as the editor. He really does exist - he's Singapore based. No mention of a "Simon Burgess". But there is a "SB" writing credit inside!