|Bravo! Our heartiest congratulations to the award-winning team at theSun!
To Jacqueline, Nades and Terence and all those who have written their stories and articles with guts and conviction, we are proud of you!
Keep up the good works!
theSun scores at SOPA Awards
Surin beat an entry from the Far Eastern Economic Review’s series of commentaries on Singapore, which received an honorary mention.
The citation for her award reads: “Brave opinion writer. Jacqueline Ann Surin’s essays examine the cracks in Malaysia’s facade of moderation. Clearly, non-Muslims, ethnic minorities and women are facing new challenges to their liberties. Surin examines them in unstinting fashion, from a perspective that is quite personal and therefore very powerful.”
theSun’s second win of the night, for Public Service Journalism, was for “Low Cost Palace” by the Special Reporting and Investigations team of deputy editor R. Nadeswaran and deputy news editor Terence Fernandez.
The report was an expose on the lavish mansion constructed, without local authority permission, by Port Klang assemblyman and former Klang councillor Datuk Zakaria Md Deros.
It led to other exposes on Zakaria’s misdeeds, including defaulting on assessment fees, running an unlicensed satay house and serving as Senator while a bankrupt.
These reports prompted responses from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and even the Sultan of Selangor, which eventually led to Zakaria losing his councillor’s post.
The award’s citation best explains the episode: “Fresh, ambitious reporting that made an impact on political cronyism. A tenacious piece of investigative journalism in a country where it can be difficult to do this kind of reporting.”
Surin said she was thrilled to receive the award and thanked colleagues, family and friends for their support and encouragement along the way.
“Good journalism does not exist in a vacuum. This award does not just recognise my work as a journalist, it also acknowledges the environment theSun editors have created to allow and encourage good journalism to happen.”
Speaking from Copenhagen where he is on assignment, Nadeswaran said it was hard to imagine that a simple gathering of old boys at his alma mater led to one of the biggest scandals in Malaysian history.
“I thank my friends for tipping us off. This is a great success for theSun and an even bigger victory in the fight for justice and transparency,” he said. “The whole episode put the appointment of public servants under the microscope and compelled the powers-that-be to be more cautious when selecting a people’s representative.”
Fernandez dedicated the award to the many unsung heroes – sources and contacts – who put themselves on the line so theSun could tell the story.
“These people could not sit idly while all these wrongdoings were going on by a person who had taken an oath to uphold the law,” he said.
“Following the public outcry, it left no choice to other publications and news groups but to emulate the new culture of journalism theSun has introduced.”
Meanwhile, Off The Edge, a magazine under the Nexnews group which publishes theSun, The Edge and The Edge Financial Daily, won an honorary mention for Excellence in Feature Photography featuring the work of Danny Lim, “Ronggeng Revolusioner”.
“Capturing interesting images of a community as rare and timeless as a village of Malay ex-Communists exiled in the jungles of southern Thailand is not a feat that is beyond anyone with a camera. The challenge was really access to the place and its people, and that came with respect. After that, the toughest part was not to foul up what they had to offer,” he said.
All the articles were published last year.
The annual SOPA awards, which began in 1999, attracted a record number of more than 500 entries this year.
The awards are divided into three categories: regional newspapers, large magazines and wire services published in English, local newspapers or small magazines (English) and Chinese language publications.
Winners in the first category included giants in the region – Time Asia, South China Morning Post, International Herald Tribune, The Straits Times (Singapore) and Business Week.