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KUALA LUMPUR: One of Malaysia's longest-serving journalists, Subramaniam Harihar, passed away today at the age of 79.

Despite being in ill-health during his sunset years, his passion for news never seemed to fade as he continued to keep readers up to date at The Star's online desk.

Known fondly as Maniam to his friends and colleagues, Subramaniam began his career in The Malayan Times in 1960 at the age of 17 before moving to UPI.

He subsequently took up a position at the Associated Press where he eventually rose the ranks to become a regional bureau chief.

Subramaniam retired from full-time work in the early 1990s, and joined The Star as a sub-editor with StarBiz.

In the late-1990s, he developed an interest in digital media and requested for a transfer to the online desk, where he stayed for over 20 years.

For those who knew him, Subramaniam was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge who always told the best stories gleaned from his years on the beat during the formative years of Malaysia.

"He always told the best stories about Tunku Abdul Rahman," said Vasantha Ganesan, the daughter of his second eldest sister, and fellow journalist.

"Not only could he tell stories about press conferences he covered, he could even mimic them," she added.

His nephew, who prefers to be known as Mohan, fondly remembers his uncle for the years he spent growing up with him in Taman Seputeh.

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"He was a good uncle, very outgoing and full of wisdom," he recalls.

Star Media Group chief content officer Esther Ng said Subramaniam was a diligent worker who was usually the first to turn up at the newsroom each day.

"He was a kind and friendly person who always had something nice to say to those around him. He will be missed," she said.

Star Media Group advisor Datuk Wong Chun Wai said Subramaniam had journalism in his blood.

"When the Japanese Red Army stormed into the AIA building at Jalan Ampang in 1975, holding 50 hostages including US and Swedish diplomats, Maniam was in the thick of action.

"During the three-day siege, he never left his office for home, running up and down from the scene. These were the days before the Internet.

"I listened in awe and I appreciate all these anecdotes I know will be valuable to me in my work. He was a very good and patient teacher," he said.

Datuk Wong Sulong, former group editor of The Star and friend of Subramaniam, says he was a great mentor to the younger generations of journalists.

“He was a journalist’s journalist because of his experience in different fields and his willingness to pass in his wisdom to young journalists,” said Sulong.

He believes Subramaniam’s most outstanding achievement was his total devotion to his late wife as he stood by her as she battled leukemia for two decades before her passing.

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