Remembering ST photographer Mak Kian Seng
From wading through the swamps in Pasir Laba to hiking through the jungles of Johor, Mr Mak Kian Seng recorded history as a photographer for The Straits Times (ST) for more than 30 years.
The retired journalist, who was chief photographer at ST in the early 1980s, died at 77 on July 24.
He was there in the difficult early years, covering the first political rallies by new political party the People's Action Party in 1959, and the capture of Indonesian guerillas during Konfrontasi in 1964.
He was present during the 1972 Robinsons Fire, the 1974 Laju hijacking and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's 1973 meeting with President Suharto after the MacDonald House bombing.
Mr Tan Wee Him, who worked with Mr Mak in the 1970s as a photographer, says: "The big events were always covered by Mak because editors had full confidence in him to bring back good pictures."
Some still remember his photo of then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the Changi Airport tarmac in 1992.
Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (arms out) with then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at the airport to welcome the Sultan of Brunei in 1992. PHOTO: ST FILE
Mr Lee succeeded Mr Goh as Prime Minister in 2004 and Mr Tay Kay Chin, a former photographer with ST, says: "We all know the story of Mr Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee Hsien Loong and the image to me more or less summarises it for us, without any words.
"He had an eye for good pictures and a tremendous news sense."
Mr Mak's colleagues also knew him as a kind and helpful mentor. Mr Francis Ong, who worked with him as a photographer for more than 20 years, says: "He was ever willing to impart his skills, especially to newcomers."
Mr Godfrey Robert, consulting editor with The New Paper, worked with Mr Mak for about 25 years.
He says: "He told me 'Always remember you have opportunities to make a small event big because the newsmakers are easily accessible and are most willing to adapt to situations. But it is not that easy to make a big event bigger because there would be restrictions and less flexibility among newsmakers.'
"And that struck with me, as there was a lot of truth in what he said."