PETALING JAYA: Former StarSport journalist Ronnie Oh was a man that everyone loved to be around.
Bubbly and jovial. Caring and loving. And was passionate about sports, especially football.
Yesterday, Ronnie, who had been based in Penang for almost 30 years under The Star Media Group before his retirement as a senior writer in 2012, passed away due to lung infection at 2.40am. He was 67.
His son Alvin Oh, who had a brief stint with the StarSport team, said he had lost a friend.
“He was a good husband, father, and my best friend. He was a family man and we will cherish his life,” said Alvin.
StarSport editor Rajes Paul said: “As a rookie reporter, I met Ronnie for the first time more than two decades ago, and he immediately took me under his wings. He did not let anyone bully the young kid on the block – and with his big physique, no one dared to come close, too.
“But those who were there before me knew him as one of the pillars in the Sports desk.”
Said former StarSport deputy editor N.D. Raj: “He was always cheerful. I’ve never seen him with a long face, even when he was struggling to walk with a stick when I last met him at the Penang Sports Club before the pandemic.
“He was a legend in Penang and known to almost every sportsperson there because he had covered all events – big or small. And he closely followed the careers of many state athletes who went on to bigger things...”
Former football writer and deputy editor Eric Samuel said Ronnie was more than just a senior – he was a jovial and down-to-earth friend.
“Big Ron (as I fondly call him) was my senior in the Sports desk. He was based in Penang and came up with daily football reports, which I sum up as mouthwatering stories from the north,” said Eric. “At first, we got to know each other mostly through phone conversations. Then, we became a hit in our first working experience at the 1995 Chiang Mai SEA Games.
“We shared the same interest – love for football and food! We had a whale of a time!
“Big Ron loved his job and was so dedicated and passionate about the local game. He was a star at home!
“During the Penang Sukma (2000), we got to see the legend in action at the City Stadium. He had a special seat (clear view) for himself at the VIP box to cover the matches.
“A former Chief Minister was commenting about the game to him at half-time. Well, he was liked by all – fans, coaching staff and players.
“That’s why he got all the juicy stories. He interacted well with all of them.
“I can’t forget the Penang Sukma trip. He picked up the Star team from the hotel and said he would treat us to the best char kuey teow in town but we gave it a miss that day because the place was crowded.
“But what we did not miss was his company, witty remarks and laughter.”
Three other former StarSport writers – Rizal Abdullah, Peter Chan and K.H. Ong, who were also covering football around the same time, paid tribute to their old buddie.
Rizal, who was based at the Johor bureau, said: “We covered a couple of SEA Games together, he would always be there for you.
“He had the knack of getting good stories from the subject. He was such a lovable and cheerful guy.
“He loved sports. He loved food. But stories always came first. He wanted only the best for StarSport.”
Ipoh-based Peter echoed Rizal’s sentiment and added: “Ronnie was always a jovial person and ever ready to lend a helping hand.”
Chipped in Ong, who was his co-worker in Penang during those era: “We covered football together. I liked football, he loved it. He had helped states like Penang, Kedah and Perlis hire professional players in the early 1980s during the Malaysia semi-pro league.”
Ronnie, indeed, is that rare breed of journalist. He will be missed but the memories that he had beautifully penned for us will be cherished.