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WHEN I was at The Sun, we had to do a number of things to make readers and media industry executives sit up and regard us as a newspaper to be taken seriously. We wanted to prove that although we are a free newspaper, we will not be frivolous in our news pages. We were, however, handicapped by a lack of resources as we did not have a big nation-wide reporting team.
So, instead of trying to match our competitors for the breadth of their reporting, we focused on where we thought they were weak – strong commentaries and investigative reporting. For the latter, I turned to R. Nadeswaran, popularly known as Citizen Nades. I formed the Investigative Reporting desk and made him the head with only one staff – Terence Fernandez.
My message to them was: “Go do what you are best at but make sure you get the facts and story right.” What happened after that was a slew of scoops and special reports on scandals that the Malaysian public had not seen in their newspapers for decades. Read more ...
Ho Kay Tat
(Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun,
June 2005 to February 2008)
SHEER fatigue caused me to gripe when the stack of documents landed on my desk. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good scoop, but as one half of a two-man team – and the younger of the two – the running around was left mostly to me. As the one supposedly with the better eye-sight it was also my job to run through the hundreds of pages of literature with a fine tooth comb and highlighter. Irony is I wear glasses but Citizen Nades doesn’t! And you wonder how Nades makes it all seem so easy. The fact that he has 20 more years of experience may have something to do with it.
So here we were near exhaustion following the shenanigans of the late Datuk Zakaria Deros, he of the Istana Zakaria fame. The Finance Department was already questioning our travel claims – almost daily to Port Klang. Just when I thought we would see the last of Nades’ birth place for a while, we were driving back there again to pursue this thing called the “free zone” – a topic that took me out of my own comfort zone and exposed me to new terms such as TEUs and made me wish I had paid more attention in Business School.
The more information and documents we received, the more we realised that we were on to a goldmine – in journalistic terms of course, although there were others who literally saw the Free Zone as exactly that!
As such, it was time for The Sun’s Special Reports and Investigations Team to reassess its priorities – the dozen or so stories we were working on simultaneously had to be dropped for PKFZ. Read more ...
1 October 2009
WHEN journalists expose any comission or ommission by a public authority which at its best can be described as “not following procedures” and at its worst “criminal”, the powers-that-be seem to take it lightly for reasons better known to them.
When people carry out tasks without any respect for the system and thrive on the brittle moral fabric of bureaucracy and the political masters who facilitate it, it paints some interesting scenarios including the inadequacies of the system. Financial scandals leave a trail of stink and affected parties usually make attempts to cover them up. The saga of the Port Klang Free Zone is one of many that fall into this category.
Over the years, most Malaysians have gotten the impression that acts of negligence and callousness, spiced up in some cases with corruption, are the result of a lack of conscience; they bitch about it for a few days and then forget about them. When another act or omission makes the front pages, the same routine continues.
Perhaps, some members of the Fourth Estate are equally culpable. Couldn’t I, having known about the financial trouble of the Port Klang Authority as way back as 2004 have continued to harp on the issue and could that have prevented more good money being pumped in to chase after bad money? Shouldn’t we as journalists who often pride ourselves as the “eyes and ears” of the people have taken it further than merely exposing it? I don’t know about others, but with all humility, I have to own up and say “Guilty as charged”. But before passing sentence, there’s a lot to say in mitigation. Two wrongs don’t make a right but couldn’t our lawmakers have created a ruckus in Parliament (as they normally do) after reading the 2003 Annual Report of the Auditor General, copies of which were made available to them? Why were they silent observers as the rape and plunder continued unabated? Read more ...
1 October 2009
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