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Barry Wain: Colleague, Friend, Author
Barry Wain, who died Tuesday in a Singapore hospital, was one of the finest, most dedicated foreign journalists to have worked in Asia, with a career in the region spanning more than forty years. His last major published work, Malaysian Maverick, a biography of Mahathir Mohamad, is ample testimony to his combination of in-depth research, fair judgment and willingness to confront his subject with some unpalatable truths. He was 69.
Barry, an Australian from Brisbane, worked for The Australian in Canberra before moving to Hong Kong where he worked on a local newspaper and then on the desk of the Far Eastern Economic Review. He joined the Asian Wall Street Journal when it was established in 1976 and was soon posted as its correspondent in Kuala Lumpur and to Bangkok in the early 1980s. During his time there he wrote, The Refused, a book about the plight of Vietnamese refugees. He later moved back to Hong Kong as Managing Editor of the Journal and subsequently became a roving correspondent and columnist focusing on Southeast Asia.
For the past several years he has been a scholar at the Institute for South East Asian Studies in Singapore. His position as writer in residence enabled him to undertake the research for his book on Mahathir a work widely praised as the only balanced account of the career of one of Asia's leading and controversial political figures.
Barry was a fine tennis player as well as an amiable colleague who kept trim and fit. His death followed months of complications from what was supposed to be a routine operation earlier last year.
He is survived by his wife Yvonne and son David. He will be missed by his many former colleagues and by the readers who learned so much from his dedication as a journalist who combined hard work with high principles.
Read Asia Sentinel's review of Barry's last book: Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times