PETALING JAYA: TV personality Datuk Mahadzir Lokman has passed away at the age of 61.
Born in Johor on April 9, 1957, Mahadzir and his family globe-trotted for much of their lives as their ambassador father, Datuk Lokman Musa, had various postings around the world.
Mahadzir (best known as Datuk Dale) first became a public figure when he read the English news on TV3 in 1985, the year Malaysia’s first commercial TV station was launched.
In interviews, he was often described as an easygoing man with a pleasant smile and an affable personality that served him well as the host of programmes such as Majalah 3, Sekapur Sirih and Melodi.
He said in a 1995 interview with The Star: “I got the gift of the gab from my parents, actually. As a child I used to follow my father, then the principal of the Language Institute, to talks and seminars.”
Nurfarahin Jamsari, who hosted TV3 programmes Nona, Wanita Hari Ini and Majalah 3 in the ’90s, first worked with Mahadzir on Sekapur Sirih.
“His passing is a big loss. We were very close – he was my mentor, my idol, my brother. I owe a lot to him.
“I am sad to hear that he is no longer with us. But I believe his legacy continues with budding reporters and journalists.
“I will always remember him for his kindness, his jokes, his caring heart and his laughter,” Nurfarahin said.
Zahir Kelvin Ong Abdullah, who worked in TV3’s newsroom in the ’90s, said: “I remember being selected as a broadcast journalist to present the news and the training was under Mahadzir Lokman, or Dale as he liked us to call him.
“The training was tough and he rejected me three times before I passed his training. I think at that time, presenters in TV3 were the standard-bearers and it was all thanks to people like Dale.”
Tengku Elida Bustaman also remembered Mahadzir fondly.
“When I first started as a newscaster in 1993, he trained me. He was a stern but generous teacher and a kind man,” she said.
Ezzah Aziz Fawzy, who started working at TV3 in 1988 and is now an executive producer for the station’s lifestyle programmes, described Mahadzir as a jovial, caring and generous person.
“The first time I read the news, it was with him. I was nervous, but Mahadzir being Mahadzir, he made jokes and made me feel at ease and energised.
“He was basically my coach. He was very particular about pronunciation. If you got it wrong, he would correct you.
“Besides writing and learning about vocals and voice-overs from him, he also taught me about protocol when emceeing. I learned a lot from him, he was like our big brother,” Ezzah recalled.
In a statement, Johan Ishak, chief executive officer of Media Prima Bhd, said: “Datuk Dale is an icon in the TV industry, especially TV3. He was the exemplary host who remained professional always.
“We want to convey our sadness at his passing and extend our condolences to his family. I personally knew and worked with him when he was the chairman of the National Visual Arts Gallery.
“He was sincere in his effort to elevate the creative industry in Malaysia.”
Retired news anchor Wan Zaleha Radzi shared that Datuk Dale was a rare, exceptional and multi-talented individual.
“He was extremely good company and very entertaining to be with. He always made me laugh, and I mean the rolling-on-the-floor sort of laughter,” she said.
She added that Mahadzir was a kind and generous person.
“He showed me the ropes when I first joined TV3, gave me loads of useful advice and taught me many things in my broadcasting and emceeing career that I treasure.
“Some of my fondest memories with him have to do with the laughter and camaraderie that always surrounded him; good food and his constant advice and ribbing.
“Datuk Dale, you will be much missed,” she said.
After resigning from TV3, Mahadzir started his own company, which led him to host a topical live talk show on TV2 titled Global.
He then broadened his horizons with emceeing duties.
Mahadzir was sought after because of his fluency in Malay, English, Spanish and French.
He was also a well-known figure in the art circles, serving as chairman of the National Visual Arts Gallery between 2013 and 2016.
During his tenure at the institution, he was passionate about heritage and art, and he publicly took the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to task when it demolished the Lunar Peaks (Puncak Purnama) public sculpture by the late Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal in Kuala Lumpur in mid-2016.
In September last year, he fell into a coma after being found unconscious at home. It was reported then that Mahadzir, a diabetic, was suffering from numerous complications, including pneumonia.
But he regained consciousness a few days later at the University Malaya Medical Centre. After the recovery, Mahadzir said he intended to spend more time doing things he had never done before.
He was quoted saying: “I would be lying if I said work never crossed my mind (since my recovery). After all, I am a workaholic.
“However, the time has come for me to rest and think of myself.”
Mahadzir was found dead in his hotel early on Friday morning in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
His older sister Fakhariah Lokman confirmed his death and said family members had gone to Sabah to bring his remains back to Petaling Jaya, where the funeral will be held today.