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MGG Pillai.

MGG Pillai, freelance journalist and political commentator, died on April 28th in Kuala Lumpur of heart complications. He was 66 years old. Pillai was the first from Malaysia to receive a Nieman Fellowship.

His son, Sreekant, recalls:

"MGG Pillai was born in Johor Bahru, Malaysia in 1939. He studied in English College (now known as Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar Johor Bahru), and Andrews Singapore and studied law at the University of Singapore. While studying part-time in the early 1960's, he worked in Reuters Singapore as a journalist. As a Reuters correspondent in 1965, he covered the Vietnam War.

"In 1967, he joined Bernama for a short stint and then left and joined Malay Mail and covered the May 13th riots in 1969. When the Singapore Herald opened in 1970, he joined. He left when the Singapore government refused to renew his work permit.

"He started his freelance career writing for the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER). He was already a stringer for the Hindustan Times. He wrote for FEER for three years until he started writing for Asiaweek, which he started with four others. While writing for Asiaweek, he was a stringer for Newsweek.

"After his Nieman year, he started contributing articles to a host of newspapers and broadcasting companies around the world. He was banned from Singapore in 1990 as a result of an article that he wrote criticizing the Singapore government.

"In 1995, he started the first Internet newsgroup called Sang Kancil where he posted commentaries and analysis of current issues. He later started his own Web site called www.MGGPillai. com, where readers were welcome to comment directly on his articles. He traveled widely to the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia...."

Pillai was known as a pioneer in Malaysia's world of online journalism. The day following his death, aliran. corn, the Web site of the Malaysian reform movement dedicated to justice and freedom, posted this tribute:

"Malaysian journalism has lost a legendary figure. We only hope that other journalists will be inspired by his courage and take up the baton he has handed over in the struggle for independent journalism in Malaysia."

Pillai is survived by his wife, Jayasree and his two sons.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:freelance journalist and political commentator
Publication:Nieman Reports
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2006
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