(MENAFN- Asia Times) John McBeth, Journalist: 1944-2023
New Zealand-born John McBeth, one of Asia's pre-eminent journalists with a record of scrupulous and ground-breaking reporting, has died after a short illness. He was 79.
Over a career spanning more than 62 years McBeth's reporting helped shape events in countries including South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.
I met John as a newbie correspondent at the Far Eastern Economic Review in the early 1990s. He was already a hero of mine. As an undergraduate in London, I pored over his stories in the Review in the university library.
His riveting accounts of wars, coups and murky political machinations helped kindle my fascination for Asia that ultimately led me to live and work in the region as a journalist.
John was a blunt-speaking“old school” reporter.
His writing pulled no punches and influenced many of the region's policy-makers over decades.
His clear explanatory style, often resistant to editing, made his articles easily accessible to locals and foreigners alike in countries where truth was shrouded either by censorship or culturally driven opacity.
I remember a cover story in the Review on the central role of rich oligarchs in the politics of the Philippines that ran under the banner headline“Bossism.” We worked many stories together in Indonesia around the fall of President Suharto in 1998.
As the protests erupted in Jakarta and troops fired on students, John sat at the keys of our old office desktop computers bashing out simple but effective prose, while I hovered behind him suggesting more complicated explanations that he sometimes graciously let me insert.
It felt like playing a duet on the piano – he on the bass side of the instrument, me on the discordant black keys.
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