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Daily Express wins Prime Minister's award for stopping controversial Sukau Bridge project
Published on: Sunday, March 25, 2018
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Daily Express wins Prime Minister's award for stopping controversial Sukau Bridge project
Kuala Lumpur: Daily Express, the leading newspaper in Sabah and Labuan, again proved it is perhaps the paper that really matters in this part of Malaysia for both the public and advertisers alike by winning the Prime Minister's Hibiscus Award 2017/2017 (PMHA) for Excellence in Environmental Journalism.

The proud winner of this highest national environmental journalism award was Special Writer Kan Yaw Chong.

He received a cash prize of RM10,000, a trophy and a Certificate of Achievement at the Royale Chulan, Friday.

Daily Express beat 27 other entries to win the premier Environmental Journalism award in Malaysia.

The consolation prize went to the Star.

The awards were presented by Datuk Nik Azman, Director-General of the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister's Department.

He represented Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the event.

Prime Minister's Hibiscus Award for Environmental Journalism was initiated in 2013 to honour the country's best print media that had made major contributions towards the understanding of environmental sustainability and a significant impact on public and policy sentiment.

This is in line with the objectives of the award, which has been giving public recognition to companies and businesses for their accomplishments and leadership in environmental sustainability since 1996.

Like numerous other national-level awards, Daily Express has won over the years, this is also the first time that the coveted award has gone to an East Malaysian newspaper.

Chief Editor James Sarda represented Sabah Publishing House Managing Director Datuk Clement Yeh at the event.

The judges agreed that Daily Express deserved the award for its role through sustained reporting by Kan that galvanised action to stop the construction of the controversial Sukau Bridge.

The Daily Express reports emphasised that the project would spell doom for Sabah's iconic wildlife in the Kinabatangan, especially the pygmy elephants and orang-utans, as well as destroy the hard-earned ecotourism image that had been built up over the decades. Tourism is one of the State's Halatuju under Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman.

The Daily Express reports also stressed that the survival of both these species is already under threat even in the absence of this mega project and despite the commendable efforts by the State Government under Musa to increase Totally Protected Areas and committing resources to preserve the wildlife and forests, more than any other state in Malaysia.

Kan's reports comprised a combination of hard news and special reports about the proposed RM232 million bridge in the first phase and a kilometre-long viaduct costing another several hundred million ringgit more in the second phase in Sukau, deep in the Kinabatangan rainforest. In all the project's completion would have cost some RM700 million.

Comprehensive reporting which included what is at stake for the wildlife if the bridge project went ahead, and its impact on Sabah's tourism industry, which yielded RM7 billion revenue last year, contributed to the decision by the State Government to finally scrap the project.

The world's leading conservationist Sir David Attenborough, upon learning first hand from Sabah's Forest Conservator Datuk Sam Mannan that the project had been scrapped, told a group of students at Cambridge University in London that the Sabah Government's decision was remarkable and provided hope to many during current times when there's hardly, that mankind can still save this planet by making the right decisions on behalf of those (wildlife) who cannot express themselves. The university's lecture hall erupted into cheers and applause.

Attenborough revealed that he had been keeping tabs on developments when he heard about the bridge project as he was familiar with Kinabatangan, having filmed many BBC documentaries there.

The Kinabatangan wildlife of Sabah (then British North Borneo) was also the subject of the world's very first wildlife documentary shot during the silent movie era through "Jungle Adventure" by Hollywood duo Martin and Osa Johnson in 1920.

The couple spent one-and-a-half months on the Kinabatangan through special arrangement with the colonial administration for making the documentary.

This is Kan's second national win, having bagged the grand prize in the English category of the ICI-CCM Environmental Journalism Award in 2003. Daily Express was the only non-peninsula newspaper to win this award twice, the first through James in 1997.

Other national-level journalism awards won by Daily Express have been for Reporting (James and Eddy Hiew 2000), Health (Mary Chin, 2007), Tourism (Mary Chin, 2011) and International Reporting (James, 2016). - Mary Chin



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