Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) has announced that as part of succession planning in the group, Han Fook Kwang will relinquish editorship of the flagship, The Straits Times (ST), in February next year. ST's former deputy editor, Warren Fernandez, will rejoin the group on 6 February and be editor from 15 February.
Mr Han, 58, will become managing editor of SPH's English and Malay Newspapers Division. In his new role, he will assist Mr Patrick Daniel, Editor-in-Chief of the Division, to strengthen and raise standards of all its print and digital products. In addition, he will help oversee Straits Times Press, SPH's book publishing subsidiary.
Dr Lee Boon Yang, SPH director and Chairman-designate, thanked Mr Han for his nine years as ST editor. In a personal email, he said: "You ensured that our flagship upheld its standing as a paper of record that is timely, trusted and reliable in presenting the news. Under your editorship, the paper remained the leading news publication despite the onslaught of online social media. All newspapers here and abroad are facing declining readership owing to changes in media consumption habits especially among the young. The Straits Times has done better than many of its counterparts overseas in retaining its readership. You have done very well during these difficult years."
Responding to Dr Lee, Mr Han said: "I was fortunate to have a wonderful team at ST - talented, passionate about the work they do, and dedicated to the profession. As long as we continue to invest in the newsroom and build on this talent, I believe ST will continue to do well. These are indeed challenging times in the media industry and I hope to help SPH meet the challenges ahead in my new role."
Dr Lee also thanked Mr Han for accepting the new appointment as managing editor. "Your support of orderly succession planning will contribute to our bench strength in SPH and help us to be better prepared for the challenges ahead. I look forward to working with you as you transit to a new position with new duties and responsibilities. I am confident that you will continue to do well."
Elaborating on Mr Han's new role, Mr Daniel said: "Maintaining quality is the critical challenge we face, given the rapidly transforming media landscape and the changing needs and expectations of our readers. Fook Kwang, with his long experience editing the ST, will help ensure that our newsrooms are up to this challenge."
Mr Fernandez, 45, was the first recipient of SPH's undergraduate scholarship, and went on to do his Masters degree, also on an SPH scholarship. He graduated in 1990 from Oxford University with a first-class honours in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and later obtained his Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University in 2000, also on an SPH scholarship. He remained with the company for almost two decades, during which he served in many roles - political correspondent, news editor, deputy political editor, foreign editor and deputy editor. He left SPH in July 2008 to join Shell as global manager, Future Energy Project, and concurrently regional manager (Asia Pacific) for communications strategy.
Mr Daniel said: "I'm delighted to welcome Warren back. He has taken on a tough job - not just keeping The Straits Times going for the next generation but ensuring that it thrives. I am confident he will succeed. "
On his decision to return to SPH, Mr Fernandez said: "I believe we are at a critical moment for the media. Singaporeans today are increasingly well-educated, well-read, and well-travelled. They have many options to choose from for their news and views, and more ways of getting these, when and wherever they want them. How to cater to the changing needs of this increasingly sophisticated audience will be one of ST's biggest challenges.
"ST has the talent and experience to meet this challenge, and I will work with my colleagues to ensure that it remains Singaporeans' paper of choice for a long time to come."