Friday, January 12, 2007

From SEAPC to MPI and soon MPF

Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) chairman Datuk Azman Ujang was quoted by a local tv station as saying that the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) is to be upgraded as a foundation similar to the well-known Thomson Foundation. I failed to trace a Bernama news item on this subject.. ??

The government, according to Azman who is also Bernama's editor-in-chief, promised to allocate RM5 million to the proposed foundation. To my friend Azman, tahniah and syabas.

Many do not know that the MPI was established to replace the South-East Asia Press Centre (SEAPC) located at Jalan Ampang, fronting the Rubber Research Institute. The centre was housed at a government bungalow.

The centre conducted courses such as basic journalism and specialised news coverage. It was also supported financially by the United Nations (UNESCO) and the American Peace Corps, among others. The SEAPC was later moved to Manila and is known today as the Press Foundation of Asia or Asian Press Foundation.

In 1971, a group of cadet reporters from Bernama attended the basic journalism course at the centre conducted by Jack Glattback (UNESCO) and Mike Anderson, the US Peace Corps volunteer. Prominent journalists from the print media were invited to share their expertise and experience as crime reporter, court reporter or feature writer.

The Bernama cadets that attended the 1971 course - Joseph Loh, Jamaluddin Yusof (later TV3 sports desk), Nawal Ismail (now script-writer), Sajad Hussein, the late Norijah Mohd Nor, Sujiah Salleh (later academician), Nizamuddin Muhammad (later TV3 news desk (pioneer)), and Abdul Ahmad (later Dewan Bahasa) and me. I might miss a name or two due to my poor recollection.


Anonymous said...

Brother Syed,

Do u know abt Bernama's plan to run a radio station? Is this wise? And is this viable? Do they know what is it abt radio business? I heard that the performance of Bernama TV is not really up to the mark in as far as the return of investment (ROI) is concerned, now already talking about radio? This was announced by the general manager yesterday when he was quoted in his speech at the opening of the agency's office in Miri. What are the priorities? Do they know that running a radio station under today's business environment is a roadmap to a financial disaster? And that radio business is almost a money-wasting and time-consuming venture that will drain good money from the govt allocation given to Bernama? Do they know that elsewhere people running radio business other than those owns by Media Prima Berhad and Astro are finding it difficult to breath and scratches their head everyday to make the bottomline, like do not know fow how long they will be in business? Was there a complete due deligence or a project-viability study or even a feasebility study done on this idea? Is this a good option for Bernama, the national news agency? Bernama? BernamaTV? and now Bernama Radio? What next? BernamaLifeStyle magazine? Perhaps BernamaCatering? Whose idea is this? And by the way the general manager, isnt he supposed to be on leave prior to his complusory retirement? And when one is on leave does one still allowed to performed official duties? Like opening offices, criss-crossing the country on official businesses while he is on official leave? is this allowed under the General Order or any government regulations? Is this a breach of these regulations? Does anybody point this out to him clearly or the person there(was told there is an officer in acting capacity who is now taking charge of the agency) knows about this? I have no idea, perhaps Brother Syed could shed some light into this? U were in Bernama and later in a minister's office? Does this kind of breach of the regulations gets the person in acting capacity into trouble with the ACA because he approves the travels and expenses incurred by the general manager who is on leave but still performs official duties? Little birds told me that the general manager also plans to go abroad (to India, Dubai and elsewhere) for the openings of the overseas bureaux offices after had insisted that these projects to be fast-tracked and completed before his retirement date so that he could, at the last minute, enjoy full benefits and perks of the office of the general manager (i mean first class travels and accomodations? I do not know about this but the last time i checked the GO spells out clearly that an officer who is on leave CEASE to perform official business on behalf of the ministry, depart, division, unit or agency he or she represents, fully or semi-govt. He might get away by pleading ignorant or any other mitigation clauses or professional excuses but what about the officer who is in charge now, does he not get into trouble for approving and allowing this to happened? What if the ACA is alerted on this matter? Should they be? If he didnt know, i think the person in charge of bernama now could perhaps take the cue from this posting to ponder what he has done wrong in allowing the general manager to do as he pleases and that he (the person in charge)should also think about his future especially on the possible actions by the ACA should he has gone overboard with this?

Brother Syed, could u comment on this? Was told that u were the one pointing out to your minister that a person (in this case a minister) performing public office cannot hire person or persons related to him in any way into his office, by way of quoting a clause in the general order. And the minister had agreed on this flaw upon the advice or your good and abled minister who is very conversant in law so much so that the relative was told to resign. Would u mind giving an advice on this? I am sure u know what is happening in Bernama today.

Anonymous said...

By the way, little birds also told us at a small teh tarik gathering a few days ago at Lotus that Azman Ujang, on the insistence of the general manager, plans to get the latter into MPI board for a simple and flimsy reason that "aku boleh juga la enjoy elaun mesyuarat and apa-apa perks to top up my pension. U re the chairman now, do what u have to do lah, bukannya orang nak complain n kalau complain pun mereka tidak boleh buat apa-apa, u chairman".

Have you heard about this, Syed Imran Alsagoff?

Anonymous said...

Pak Tuan,

MPI dapat RM5 juta dari kerajaan untuk menaik-taraf institut berkenaan - memang menarik. Peruntukan itu datang dari Kementerian Penerangan. Atas alasas itu atau bukan, MPI kemudian memberi anugerah Tokoh Wartawan Negara kepada Datuk Zainudin Mydin, menteri penerangan.

Mungkin Datuk Zam layak menerima anugerah itu. Saya tak tau lah. Ada juga wartawan2 kanan yang mempertikaikannya. Tapi itu memang adatlah! Ada juga pengkritik yang membuat anggapan bahawa Datuk Zam 'beli' anugerah tersebut! Bagi peruntukan RM5 juta pada MPI dan ini memudahkan beliau dipilih Tokoh Wartawan Negara!

Mengapa tak pilih Said Zahari, pengarang Utusan yang merengkok 17 tahun dalam jel satu masa dulu? Mengapa tak pilih Dato Melan Abdullah, juga pengarang Utusan? Datuk Rejal Arbee atau datuk Kadir Jasin tak layak ke? Mereka ni masih bergelar wartawan kan?

Kalau Dato Zam tak lagi jadi menteri, dan tak pulak 'menderma' RM5 juta kepada MPI, mungkin perkara ini tak jadi isu. Yang hairan itu Datok Zam pun tak nampak kemungkinan 'derma' berkenaan boleh ditafsirkan sebagai 'membeli' anugerah tersebut!!

Apa komen Pak Tuan?

Unknown said...

Thank you all for your comments.

First of all, I would like to note my views on the proposed Bernama Radio.

I am of the view that it is not a good and viable idea. The ill-advised investment placed by the agency for a small share in THR (Time Highway Rradio) should be a good lesson. But, unfortunately, this will not be the case.

I am in full agreement with you on the position of Bernama TV. One day, Astro will set up its own news gathering division and will not need the service of Bernama TV. What after that??

On the question of the GM, I was told by a very reliable ministry officer that he going on official leave in February. So what he is doing now is administratively right. The EIC will be the acting GM only in February. So let him enjoy his last few days as GM by travelling here and there.

As for the yet to be set up press foundation, many will be lobying for positions. This is typical of our people, Malays in particular, they will go after positions, datukships (pangkat) and social status juts to be seen rubbing shoulders with others just like them. Good luck to them.

On MPI and Datuk ZAM, as stated in my earlier posting, I smell a fish and hey presto! The picture is getting clearer and clearer.

Anonymous said...

Brother Syed,

Please post this as this is a matter of urgent interest in Bernama.

I ran a check with JPA and a senior officer there told me that what the general manager doing now is WRONG and totally in breach of the GO. The general manager is already on official leave and the board decided to actually appoint a senior officer of the agency, the human resources officer in charge temporarily until a new gm is appointed.
The general manager has been on leave effective from the last Bernama board of directors' meeting (in December 06) which insisted that he be on leave until his compulsory retirement age of 55 in February 07. Therefore he CEASES to perform the duties of the office of the general manager, period. Any duties perform during this period is considered a violation of the GO, and this includes signings of any agreements, letters of appointments, chairing of meetings, travels and so forth. This, according to the JPA senior officer, is clearly stated in the GO. He no longer represents the agency as he is already on leave.
He also said that as a consequence of the breaches are (1) imposition of surcharges or offsetting of charges on the expenses incurred during the official leave period on the particular officer (the general manager) or the officer who is put in charge of the agency (who approves these matters in the interim) and (2) the officer (general manager) could and would be given a "celaan", a form of displinary action which could amounting to his pension (and other payments including his gratuity) delayed with the prospect of being deducted to make up for the flawed expenses until a thorough investigation done by the relevant authorities.
This is not the first time an officer is going on leave prior to his retirement and as per the previous procedures, the senior officer must be totally on leave, meaning leaving the office (which includes the activities of the the office) to the other officer(s) in charge to perform his or her duties according to and in compliance with the GO.
These are very clear, according to the senior officer of the JPA.

This should also send a clear message to Bernama.

Unknown said...

Dear Brother....

Thank you for the info. It seems that "penyakit lama berulang lagi" dalam Bernama. The prolem is, the supervisory authority at Bukit Putra is doing nothing about it.

Year in and year out, mismanagement, abuse of position (and power), and "pilih kasih" are the norms. It is an open secret.