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Malaysiakini's Wong bags Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award
Published:  Nov 30, 2021 8:37 AM
Updated: 10:56 AM

Malaysiakini reporter Wong Kai Hui, 27, has won the prestigious Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, chosen from almost 200 entrants from 55 countries, to win this year’s award.

Tatiana Pardo Ibarra from Colombia and Mahima Jain from India were runners- up. All three, including environmental prize winner Monika Mondal from India, have been awarded £1,000 (RM5,639) learning bursaries and funds to buy equipment.

Other nominees included Carmen Valeria Escobar Catillo (El Salvador), Parth Nikhil (India), Samad Uthman (Nigeria), Shrouk Ghonim (Egypt), Daniel Lutaaya (Uganda), Md Ibrahim Khalilullah (Bangladesh), and Zuha Siddiqui (Pakistan).

The award recognises stories produced by journalists that are revelatory, prompt public debate, and have or potentially have led to positive change in society.

Among Wong’s stories are her reporting on the Pahang royalty’s involvement in the Lynas’ permanent waste disposal (PDF) facility in Bukit Ketam, Kuantan.

Following the report, Pahang Regent Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah divested his 50 percent stake in the company hired to build the PDF.

The Department of Environment has also asked Lynas to seek a new site. The original site sits on a water catchment area which the Australian firm initially denied.

Wong (top, left) and the other nine were picked as the top 10 running for the Young Journalist Award 

Wong’s other work that has been highlighted includes her reporting on a mining project in a forest reserve in Kuala Tembeling, Jerantut.

The area was degazetted for the project and was similarly linked to the Pahang royalty.

Wong has also reported on marginalised groups, including the struggles of the transgender community.

Her first love is documentary filmmaking, which she studied alongside journalism at National Chung Cheng University in Taiwan. But finding it difficult to find a job as a paid filmmaker, she grabbed the opportunity to work as a journalist with Malaysiakini.

“It doesn't matter if it is documentary filmmaking or journalism,” she said. “I think what I have always wanted to pursue is documenting what’s happening in our society in a more contextualised form.

“Living in a multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic country, the points of view on gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression and also sexuality are very diverse. And reaching a consensus can be a very long journey," added Wong.

Remarkable achievement

Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan said that the team was extremely proud of Wong’s achievement.

“Kai Hui is one of the many young journalists I have the privilege to work with in Malaysiakini. She is tenacious, meticulous, and diligent in pursuing her stories – all prerequisite skills for a budding investigative journalist,” Gan said.

“What I find even more remarkable - like a number of journalists in Malaysiakini - she took it upon herself to not only write her stories in Chinese, which is her strongest language, but also translate them into English and Bahasa Malaysia.”

Gan expressed hope that Wong, who has just left for Taiwan to pursue further studies, will return to be part of a new generation of Malaysian journalists and contribute to making this country better than the one they inherited.

Thomson Foundation, a media development organisation founded in 1962, helps train journalists in developing countries. It has given out the Young Journalist Award since 2013.


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