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No. 1 in Investigative Journalism
Published on: Sunday, June 26, 2022
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James (left) receiving the Investigative Journalism Award.
Kuala Lumpur: The Daily Express became the first paper from East Malaysia to win the coveted Investigative Journalism Award at the 41st series of the Malaysian Press Institute-Petronas awards at the Shangri-la Hotel, here, Friday night.

It beat a strong challenge from both national-based print and electronic media for the award which carried a trophy, certificate and RM10,000 cash.

Chief Editor James Sarda JP and Senior Reporter Sherell Jeffrey who did a 21-part series on the June 6, 1976 air crash that killed 11 people, including newly-elected Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and four of his Ministers, was found by the judges to be deserving of the award.

The focus of their investigative series was to revisit the tragedy to unearth other information related to the crash that were not public knowledge at the time when it happened 46 years ago.

It was the result of two years of research and interviews with relevant people while the information was still available. They were published both in the newspaper as well as made into a video documentary titled “Double Six: The Untold Stories” that has been getting rave reviews ever since it was released in YouTube in conjunction with the anniversary of the crash recently. The video documentary was produced by Dexter Yeh.

Tokoh Wartawan Malaysia Tan Sri Johan Jaffar said in his speech at the awards presentation that investigative journalism is what journalists should do to uphold public accountability. He cited the Washington Post whose groundbreaking work on the Watergate scandal brought down a sitting US President.

He said there are presently archaic laws in Malaysia which prevent good public or investigative journalism from being practised which could have prevented scandals like the 1MDB from taking place.

The latest recognition was also special for the paper as it established the Daily Express as one of the best newspapers in the country whose work upheld public accountability and good journalism.

It had already in 1995 achieved international recognition for its World Scoop by exposing the whereabouts of Nick Leeson who was hiding at the Shangri-la Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, while the world was looking for him as the most wanted man everywhere.

Both the Times of London and The Independent said that if it had not been for the Sabah Daily Express, Leeson who caused the collapse of Barings Bank, the Queen’s bank, would still be free today.

Interpol acknowledged that it acted on the Daily Express report when Leeson was arrested in Frankfurt on a RBA flight that originated from Kota Kinabalu.

It was also believed to be the world’s last great scoop and was the effort of James, who was Deputy Editor at that time, and Crime Reporter Clifford Santa Maria.

With the award, Daily Express also had the rare distinction of bagging some of the most important national press awards.

It is currently also the only Malaysian newspaper to have ever won the Prime Minister’s Hibiscus Award for Excellence for its report by Senior Special Writer Kan Yaw Chong which led to the cancellation of the RM730 million bridge and highway project in the Kinabatangan, one of the world’s top biodiversity areas, which would have affected the iconic wildlife there like the elephants, orang utan and proboscis monkeys.

The project was bulldozed during the Najib administration despite not being included under the Malaysia Plan nor having been approved at both the Federal or State level.

Legendary wildlife and conservation campaigner Sir David Attenborough was moved by the Daily Express reports that were picked up on the Internet and voiced concern, which led the previous State Barisan Nasional Government to halt the project.

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