KUALA LUMPUR: For the second year in a row, The Star’s R.AGE team has bagged Malaysia’s most coveted journalism award – the Kajai – at the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI)-Petronas Malaysian Journalism Awards 2017.
R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee said it is an achievement for a group of young journalists to win the Kajai Award two years consecutively.
“For a small group of young journalists to win the Kajai Award two years in a row is an amazing achievement, and my team at R.AGE did it while upholding the best traditions of our profession.
“I hope what they’ve achieved, their selflessness, their bravery in standing up to injustice, will inspire young Malaysians everywhere to keep pushing boundaries and fight for what’s right,” Yee said after they received the prestigious award from Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah at the presentation here last night.
The R.AGE team headed by Yee comprises Elroi Yee, Chen Yih Wen, Samantha Chow, Claire Anthony, Lim May Lee, Shanjeev Reddy, Clarissa Say, Satpal Kaler, Johenson Goh, Vaneesha Krishnasamy, Natalie Hussain, Myrra Baity and Husna Ab Rahman.
R.AGE emerged champion this time for its year-long Student/Trafficked undercover investigation of student trafficking syndicates operating in Bangladesh and Malaysia.
WATCH THE AWARD-WINNING STUDENT/TRAFFICKED SERIES
The award came a month after it won the prestigious SOPA Award for Excellence in Investigative Journalism for the campaign.
Ian hopes these awards will shed light on the plight of undocumented trafficking victims across the nation.
“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 that 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 who need our help,” he said.
The investigation 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.
WATCH: R.AGE UNDERCOVER JOURNALISTS EXPOSE HUMAN TRAFFICKER
The campaign led to a tightening of student visa approval processes. Nearly 30 colleges have had their licences revoked since the former Higher Education Ministry was made aware of the issue.
In April, R.AGE won two awards at the prestigious Asian Media Awards, with a Gold in the Best Feature Story and Best in Community Service categories for Student/Trafficked.
Last year, R.AGE snagged the Kajai for its Predator in My Phone undercover investigation on online sex predators, which also won a slew of international accolades, including the Asian Media Awards.
Predator In My Phone also made history by becoming the first Malaysian outfit to be nominated for a Peabody Award, widely considered as one of the most prestigious international awards for broadcast and online journalism.
WATCH: CHILD SEXUAL PREDATORS EXPOSED
At last night’s event, The Star’s Foo Chern Hwan topped the Best Front Page Design category for three front pages – “Wiping out Ah Long”, “Trafficked by colleges”, and “Probe on massive mobile leak”. He won RM10,000.
The Star staff also clinched a number of consolation prizes in their respective categories: C.W. Kee (Best Editorial Cartoon), Bavani M (Best Environmental Journalism), Muhammad Hafeez Amirudin (Best Infographic), Glenn Guan (Photo Journalism), and R.AGE senior producer Elroi Yee (Best Photo Essay).
They each took home a RM1,000 cash prize.
Since 2015, R.AGE has won over 20 major awards for journalism, digital media innovation, filmmaking, marketing and activism.