A tribute by Sabah Journalists Association (SJA) for veteran journalist Colin Nicholas Forsythe (1959-2021)


KOTA KINABALU: Colin Forsythe as we all knew him was not the easiest of characters to get along with. Not many would argue with that.

But there was something about the brooding dry-humoured temperament that helped foment his reputation.

He was the kind of newsman who would not let go once he picked up the scent of a good story.

And he translated this knack for story-telling to good effect for the better part of 40 years, most of which he spent in Sabah.

Starting out in his late teens as a sports stringer with the Star in Johor in the early 70s, the Seremban native went through the journalism mill working for various media organisations.

As a reporter he covered the whole spectrum of news from politics, crime, general and sports.

As a sub-editor he was equally adept, using his exceptional grasp of English to excel as a wordsmith.

And as editor, he was known for rolling up his sleeves to produce a good read each day, all the time making it no secret that he expected the same of his subordinates.

Such was his passion. Period.

It was a calling not many, especially today’s younger generation of journalists, readily understood but Colin was ultimately the kind of newsman who loved the written word. And he took pains to deliver.

Among the organisations which benefitted from his talent and zeal during his chequered career were the New Straits Times, Daily Express and Sabah Times.

He also dabbled with public relations work for a time but it wasn’t long before the call of writing brought him right back.

This time venturing into online news before starting up news portal Borneo Today five years ago.

After the 2018 general election, he was appointed Press Secretary to the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Again he put his journalism experience to good use in this new capacity, rallying the troops to set forth the government agenda and admonishing, and not shyly, when the media pushed the envelope too far. Such was his character.

Another thing. Not many know this but there was also a soft side to this hard-nosed newsman.

Colin threw himself at charity work, bringing much needed relief to rural areas and also initiating a rural school hostel in Kg Sulit in Paitan.

And as a church warden he did not find it beneath him to direct church traffic on Sundays, thus earning him the moniker Outstanding Catholic, much to his amusement.

His passing, after an 18 month battle againts cancer on Nov 1, is therefore nothing short of a loss to the media fraternity and the community in which he lived.

The Sabah Journalists Association extends our deepest condolences to his wife Catherine and his three children and grand children.

Colin was secretary of the SJA in its formulative years and has been very supportive of the media organisation.

Rest in Peace Colin Nicholas Forsythe.

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