Monday, September 5, 2011


The Helmet And Kevlar Worn By The CNN Correspondent On Duty Wasn’t Supplied By The US Government

First Of All The Patriot Would Like To Extend Our Most Heartfelt Condolences To The Family Of The Late Noramfaizul Mohd Nor, The BERNAMA Cameraman Who Was Fatally Shot While On Duty Covering The Situation In Somalia. May His Soul Rest In Peace Amongst The Righteous. Al-Fatiha.

I’m sure this article would be considered as bad form coming out at this moment but it’s about time people take responsibility instead of letting all blame fly loose and carelessly aimed at the wrong party turning it into something political.

There was nothing wrong with the joint noble effort of Putera 1Malaysia Club, Bakti and other agencies, coming together to provide humanitarian aide to survivors of a cursed nation.

Having said that, it shouldn’t take a nuclear physicist to comprehend the gravity of the situation on the ground of the country that they were visiting. I’m not speaking on hindsight as this was touched in one of my articles last year regarding the preparedness of our journalists in the expected deadly raid on a Turkish-led Flotilla that tried to break Isreal's blockade of Gaza. I would have thought we LEARNT SOMETHING from it.

Journalists should be well protected while they go to war torn zones to cover their stories and the responsibility lies upon the shoulders of their respective agencies to equip them with the proper tools be it for protection or even mental preparedness. Neither the Government nor the Putera 1Malaysia Club should have to be on the defensive receiving “shellings” from all parties not knowing who to blame but rightfully needing to scream at someone for this stupid blunder of not learning from the past.

BERNAMA and all news agencies should be responsible for their own personnel in terms of safety precautions and not expect to be spoon-fed by those providing them with the opportunity to report news of the world to those back home.

These agencies have their own Chairman, CEOs, Managing Editors and so forth drawing handsome incomes. They should have brains enough to think, plan and execute. Certainly they don’t need the Prime Minister nor his Deputy to tell them what to purchase and suit their reporters with when covering stories.

BERNAMA is so lame that we had to flip through ASTRO AWANI and other channels to get current news of their own (BERNAMA) slained cameraman! What happened to their other reporters on the ground who were supposed to report from the other end of the camera? Were they not sufficiently equipped with the best and up do date technology to keep reporting? Were they not resourceful enough to borrow from their counterparts like the CNN correspondent who borrowed from a Chinese national journalist when his mobile cell went dead to report live via audio locked down in a hotel in Tripoli? Were they so ill-prepared that they were too distraught to work while trying hard to remember how the deceased behaved the days leading to his death, like all Malays do when faced with this situation? Is that professional reporting? They should be ashamed to be called the National News Agency!!!

In the same breath, I implore all politicians, who are generally not media savvy to refrain from being trigger-happy making stupid comments on the matter. Rightfully so, even in situations where Kevlar vests are employed, people do sometimes get killed but that doesn’t one bit justify any party from being careless. If that is the case, then we shouldn’t make it mandatory for riders of motorbikes to wear helmets or car passengers to fasten seat belts, because despite the helmets and the latter, the mortality rates remain high. I wonder if Shabery Cheek is on hand once again to provide the PM with these statistics trying to justify an ailing cause.

Precautionary measures MUST be taken to minimize the risk. Then, we leave the rest to God. It’s COMMON SENSE! We don’t leave the camel untied and leave it to God to be its keeper, calling it fate.

The National Union of Journalists should take this matter up including having their members insured no matter how costly it may be for those covering high-risk zones.

The standard of journalism needs to be lifted in this country, especially amongst the Malay run agencies. At the same time, the welfare and safety of personnel in this field should be addressed accordingly.

The Prime Minister Should Revamp BERNAMA And Other Related Agencies Under Us Which Do Not Live Up With The Times And Lack Professionalism. He Should Remove Those Tan Sris and Dato’s Earning Maximum Wage For Minimum Work With No Foresight. This Is Not About Carrying Out The Government’s Aspirations. It Is About Professional And Dynamic Journalism.


Mat Cendana said...

There's the tendency to indulge in the thinking that "Somalia is safer as compared to Afghanistan and Iraq." It may be so, but it certainly isn't "safe" by any reasonable standards... not when there are various armed militia and gunmen running around.

The contingent did hire armed bodyguards but obviously it wasn't enough. This should serve as a lesson for all the media companies and also the humanitarian organisations that want to be involved in such projects in the future: don't overlook or skimp on safety procedures and equipment for the personnel involved.

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum Tengku
Its easy to play the blame game when an incident like this happens.
I don't blame Allahyarham Noramfaizul Mohd Nor's family or anyone if they do, as initial reports showed that the mission organiser did not do enough homework before going there.
In the live report by TV3 yesterday, Shabery Cheek was heard telling the Prime Minister on the statistics on the number of fatalities among journalists, quoting Reporters Without Borders. The numbers are higher than any conflict stricken areas, making Somalia the deadliest country for journalists, but the NGO still took a huge number of media personnel to follow them. Of 10 or so that followed, almost half represented television stations. What does that show you? Granted that visuals tell a story better but seriously, do you need four to five cameras taking the same visuals of the mission leader distributing aid to Somali women and children?
And in any warring country, anyone with a video camera is easy target. 
And being protected by the country's own army makes the mission an easier target as you're considered as taking sides in the country's civil war.
In fact, getting protection from a neutral party such as UN peacekeepers for example will not guarantee that you will not be attacked. And we all know UN had already withdrawn the peacekeeping operations from there in 1995 because the two operations they undertook failed.
Also through the clips aired by the television stations, we can see for ourselves that volunteers were not wearing bullet proof vests and safety helmets. And if none insisted on wearing one, it goes to show how inexperienced the mission members were still despite having gone for such humanitarian missions in conflict areas before. 
While it is true that it does not guarantee that the wearers will not be wounded or killed when shot at, it does gives us -- the family members and friends in particular and Malaysians in general -- the peace of mind that all safety precautions were indeed taken during the mission.
Al Fatihah for Allahyarham Noramfaizul Mohd Nor and condolences to his family.. Let his death be a lesson to all.

TPJ said...

Asalamualaikum SIr Mat Cendana.

All parties should do their homework before they embark on an expedition. No one is safe when you see high calibred machine guns and pistols being flashed around in the open.

You're dead right regarding media companies and organizers having to learn from this. But emphasis must be on the media companies who shouldn't expect to be spoon-fed for every ounce of support material from the organizers from getting a free ride on the Hercules, being equipped with security details, to getting their accommodations and insurance covered while being there.

Imagine the hardship that CNN correspondents had to go through, taking commercial flights to neighbouring countries before traveling on land for hours on end to reach such destinations where the airport is closed. Our journalists had the best possible treatment complete with meals unlike foreign news reporters who had to scrounge on their own.

BERNAMA, the Prima Media Group and Astro Awani among others need to look into being more responsible and develop in this department if they intend to go into danger zones where real journalists hover sending back news with credence.

Thank you Sir for dropping your comment. Salam Aidilfitri to you and the family.

TPJ said...

Alaikum Salam Anonymous 11:17AM

Though it's easy to play the blame game, but off late, it seems easier to dismiss responsibility by throwing the cliche " this is not the time to point fingers" until another incident occurs.

Yes someone really needs to be blamed but certainly not the organizers. Journalists should be on the ball and resourceful. At the very mention of the country of destination, they should study the background and climate of the situation on the ground. Everything is in the internet and also feeds from foreign news agencies on the same.

The organizers have their own duty and have cordially invited the news agencies to participate. The rest is up to the agencies after being given the briefing on what is provided and what is not. I'm not putting the blame on the deceased as he has paid the heaviest price but his employers who did not prepare him and his colleagues with mental as well as material equipment.

When the incident happened, BERNAMA failed to reach their surviving reporters to give a running commentary on the situation. What does that say about their professionalism? Were they shot too? Viewers had to tune in to other news channels to get news about the BERNAMA employee who died. They were accommodated in an area with full internet service by the organizers. Why couldn't the correspondent report via Skype on a laptop? Can they only act and report with a huge camera in front of them holding a large microphone? Haven't they grown with the times? Or were they on compassionate leave due to the death of their colleague? Perhaps they should also observe other Malaysian holidays when they are on assignment abroad!!

The NGO merely invited them and it was on voluntary basis. It was a good gesture by the organizers where the journalists can kill two birds with one stone by reporting on the situation in Somalia as well as Malaysia's efforts there enhancing our profile on humanitarian grounds worldwide.

Instead, we keep on seeing footages of the President of the NGO giving out aides, pushing carts and carrying children. I blame the journalists for that because taking shots of that is the easiest thing to do without having to venture out further.

Shabery Cheek's act of providing the stats to the PM didn't help either because though there were others who died there, precautionary measures were taken minimizing their risk while it looked like we were just inviting an accident to happen being careless. In such cases, we shouldn't be defending our weaknesses. It just makes us sink deeper into the ocean.

Again, I blame the journalists for taking the same shots of the chef-de-mission when they should instead capitalize on the opportunity given to report on the country enhancing their credentials in their curriculum-vitae. Yes I'm sure the mission head naturally sought some mileage from it but it was overdone by the news agents accompanying him.

Having the military provide protection there was not bright. You are right, it makes us look like we were taking sides.

There will be more expeditions in the future. This time let us hope all parties take their responsibilities seriously. It is division of labour. Those who follow must not follow blindly and wait for handouts by the organizers like its an UMNO "rombongan" to Langkawi.

The journalists must have their own vests and helmets at least with the name of their agencies pasted on it to be safe and look more professional. They should be grateful that in doing their job, the organizers have provided free traveling, meals and accommodation for them when foreign journalist have to stand on their own two feet.

The blame is not on the journalists but solely on the Agencies they represent who are penny-wise, pound foolish.

Al Fatihah for Allahyarham Noramfaizul Mohd Nor and once again, condolences to his family.

Anonymous said...

The Patriot
Unlike Japan, it is not our culture for leaders, be it from the government or companies, to resign voluntarily. I don't even expect the Prime Minister to remove the bosses of the media organisations. I wonder how they sleep at night!
It must have been a traumatic experience for the media personnel who went there together with Noramfaizul Mohd Nor and returned home with his body in a coffin. I wonder how they are handling it and whether their organisations are providing counselling for them. I can bet they have not thought of this too.

Patriot Follower

TPJ said...

Patriot Follower,

Yes we are not Japan. I saw two weeks ago when the new Japanese PM and his Cabinet were sworn in, they all looked unhappy and concerned which shows that they saw it as a huge responsibility and not as filling the country's top positions. They looked more reluctant than willing to take on the job.

The media personnel who recently returned naturally would be trauma stricken but they must maintain their professionalism at the same time while suffering from a degree of emotional setback. It goes with the territory. They had 20 hours of opportunity to be solemn and emotional in the plane home but while they were on the ground and the rakyat were eager to find out more of the incident, they should have been constantly on the phones and internet lines sending current news instead of mourning for the rest of their stay there under their tents.

I was a strong critic of Azeez Rahim and even whacked him personally on the phone when he was defending the rights of Palestinians in Gaza while doing nothing about MCA's leaders attacking Malay rIghts back home.

I opened The Residence for him despite him being unpopular at the time, when he was seeking a seat on the UMNO Supreme Council. That is why I felt I had a right to scream at him if he failed to live up to our expectations. Upon his return, he called me personally to apologize and assured that he will do something about it. I was still not convinced then.

I was equally critically observing him in the Somalia Mission and am truly convinced that despite his need for some exposure which the media overdid him with, his sincerity outweighs all that we accuse him of by more than ten-folds.

He has my total support for now. We should aim our guns at the other establishments which wish to send people to follow him but as passengers and tourist with minimal responsibility putting poor souls like the late Noramfaizul at risk.

Trust me, if I can read this chap well by now, he will take it upon himself to conduct a support workshop for those suffering from trauma in his entourage.

This should be borne by the respective agencies for their own employees, not a NGO/NPO like Putera 1Malaysia.

Thank you for your valuable opinion and following The Patriot.