KUALA LUMPUR: The Star's R.AGE team has once again won Malaysia's most coveted journalism prize – the Kajai award at the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) awards.
The prestigious Kajai award was presented to R.AGE at the MPI-Petronas Malaysian Journalism Awards 2017 on Friday (July 13) night.
This is the second time R.AGE has won the award, after coming out tops for their Predator in my Phone series last year.
R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee said he hopes that these awards will shed light on the plight of undocumented trafficking victims across the country.
"We're really proud to be here alongside all our colleagues in the industry, because we know how hard it has been for journalists in Malaysia.
"And I'm sure all the other journalists will agree with me, but all we want is for our work to make a difference. For R.AGE, we hope these awards will remind everyone – especially the Government – that there are countless undocumented trafficking victims throughout the country that need our help," Yee said.
The award comes a month after R.AGE won the prestigious SOPA Award for Excellence in Investigative Journalism for The Student Trafficking Trade story.
R.AGE also won two awards at the prestigious Asian Media Awards on April, with a Gold in the Best Feature Story and Best in Community Service categories for its Predator In My Phone undercover investigation on online sex predators.
The award was presented by Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
The Student/Trafficked story is a year-long undercover investigation of student trafficking syndicates operating in Bangladesh and Malaysia.
The investigations exposed a network of traffickers that used bogus colleges in Malaysia to cheat thousands of Bangladeshi college applicants of RM20,000 to RM25,000 for a fake degree course, move them over to Malaysia, and then exploit them for cheap labour.
The campaign led to a tightening of student visa approval processes. Nearly 30 colleges have had their licences revoked since the Higher Education Ministry was made aware of the issue.
The Kajai award comes with a cash prize of RM30,000, certificate, trophy and other accompanying prizes.
At the same time, The Star's Foo Chern Hwan also won the Best Front Page Design category for three front pages- Wiping out Ah Long, Trafficked by colleges, and Probe on massive mobile leak.
The Star's Kee Choon Wai won consolation prize for the Best Editorial Cartoon category and Bavani Mahalingam won consolation prize for the Best Environmental Journalism category.
The Star's Muhammad Hafeez Amirudin won consolation prize for the Best Infographic category, while photographer Glenn Guan won consolation prize for the Best Photojournalism category.
At the same time, R.AGE's senior producer Elroi Yee took home consolation prize for the Best Photo Essay category.
Since R.AGE was brought together by Star Media Group in late 2015, they have won 20 major awards for journalism, digital media innovation, filmmaking, marketing and activism.
In April, R.AGE became the first Malaysian outfit to be nominated for a Peabody Award, widely considered one of the most prestigious international awards for broadcast and online journalism.
Other nominees included HBO, CNN, BBC, Vice and Netflix.