By Suresh Nair

RARE for a Malaysian-born sports journalist to have tears shed on both sides of the Causeway after he lost a 12-month battle with stomach cancer.

The passing of Dan Guen Chin, who died at the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Bahru on Tuesday, was seriously mourned because the 64-year-old made outstanding writing landmarks that endeared him to the regional footballing fraternity.

He is survived by his wife, Angeline Boo Pik Noi, 55, and 20-year-old son, Jeremy Dan Jie Min.

Even Asean football legend Fandi Ahmad was left distraught: “Dan was more than just a reporter. He was a friend to me, a buddy,” said Fandi who became close to Dan when he played for Kuala Lumpur and Pahang in the Malaysian League in the 1980s.  

“Whenever my playing or coaching career hit a bumpy patch, he would tell me to be positive and always lent an ear if I needed someone to talk to. He was a good man, humble, with a big heart.”

I grief for “Big Dan” as he was popularly known, as he ranked as a one-of-a-kind journalist, who not only had a vast reservoir of regional contacts, but he excelled for his sports investigative skills, which earned him the Anugerah Khas Media Johor 2015 (Johor Special Media Award 2015) from Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled, on behalf of the state government, expressed his heartfelt condolence to the Dan family. “Dan’s death marks a big loss to the world of journalism due to his vast experience. He was a role model to his peers,” Khaled said in a statement.


I remember Dan confiding in me his poor health status a few years ago and later found out that he had stomach cancer. “I will fight to the end, Suresh,” I recall him telling me.

 “The cancer started in the pancreas and gradually spread despite a series of chemotherapy treatments. I may feel weak every passing day but I will never give up hope because I’ve written countless articles of courageous sports personalities and if I ever go down, it will be after giving the very best shot.”

Leading Malaysian sports columnist Tony Mariadass said Dan had been in a “coma for a week”. He adds after a visit over the weekend: “He was operated on for strangulation of the intestine. When I met him, he was able to respond by nodding and he also opened his eyes briefly.”

Yes, Dan gave his best kick as he waved the proverbial white flag at the Hospital Sultan Ismail at 4.30pm on Tuesday. Family members said he “passed on peacefully with his two most beloved family members by his side”.

Dan started his long journalism career with The Straits Echo before joining The Star in 1976. As a young reporter, he was hailed as a “ladies’ man” as he had the charming personality to get the women swooning over him.

Wow, I remember he had the gift of the gab, too, which he not only used with the women folks but also to win the hearts and minds of thousands of sports personalities, who hailed him for his colourful personality.

He left The Star in 1981 and continued his career with The New Straits times, Bernama, The Malay Mail and later with Singapore’s Today newspaper, where he was the Deputy Sports Editor.


The Star’s former Johor senior sportswriter Rizal Abdullah described Dan as a blunt and straightforward journalist who got the job done.

“I will miss him dearly. I have known him for over 40 years. I sent him messages daily,” he said, adding that Dan was a colourful person who had travelled widely to cover sports events around the world.

Former New Straits Times Bureau Chief Ravi Nambiar described him as a very nice person and a great sports reporter. He adds: “Probably the way he talked, (loud and rough) can make people scared of him, especially young reporters, but he was actually a very nice and friendly person.”

Ravi, who knew him for more than 20 years said Dan’s ability to remember all the facts and writing news very quickly, are among his best values as a sports reporter.

Dan’s versatility in sports bordered on the incredible as he excelled in the main beats of football, athletics and badminton. He covered multiple SEA Games, Asian and Olympic Games, badminton’s Thomas Cup finals, and the football World Cup.

Also able to filter into the non-sporting arena, Dan garnered a massive reputation, covering issues in his home-state of Johor for the past 30 years. Government officials recall him as “sharp, on the point and polite were keys to getting the job done”.

Dan once confessed:  “One of the more important things about being a journalist is to be polite… do not be vulgar, rude or uncouth. Never be afraid to ask questions to get the answers you want.”

Malay Mail editor-in-chief Datuk Wong Sai Wan praised Dan for the proverbial blood, sweat and tears in the journalism beat. He adds:  “Dan is a very seasoned campaigner and has covered much on the state, especially sports issues. He deserves the State award for his contribution to journalism and the state.”


Malay Mail Editor Emeritus Frankie D’Cruz said Dan’s the man when it came to resilience and resourcefulness. “He is unflappable in the face of intense pressure, a true newspaper enthusiast – a great journalist and a kind and generous friend,” he says. 

Former Singapore football-writing icon Jeffrey Low, who has known Dan since the 1970s when they covered the Malaysia Cup, said: “He was a very good sports journalist, he knew his game, he had a wide network of contacts, and he knew what he was talking about.

“His relationships with Malaysian football officials, coaches and players were so good that he could pick up the phone, call anyone anytime and they would talk to him.

“He was so knowledgeable that he became a point of reference for us (Singaporean reporters) whenever we wanted to find out more about the (Malaysian) teams. He was a hardworking guy and the kind of reporter who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer – he’d always dig deeper till he got the story. In a nutshell, he was an old-school journalist – loud, outspoken, extroverted and charismatic.”

The Dan Guen Chin wake will be held at the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, near Sekolah St Joseph, in Johor Bahru from Wednesday afternoon. Funeral scheduled for Friday.

RIP Dan Guen Chin: An ace of a sports-writing legend on both sides of the Causeway.


  • Suresh Nair is a Singapore-based journalist, who knew Dan Guen Chin for over three decades. He ranks “Big Dan” as one of Malaysia’s most celebrated sportswriters.
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