Al Jazeera reporter detailing abuse of migrant workers in Malaysia during pandemic wins UK award | The Daily Star
06:43 PM, June 19, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:46 PM, June 19, 2021

Al Jazeera reporter detailing abuse of migrant workers in Malaysia during pandemic wins UK award

Calls Bangladeshi whistleblower Rayhan "true hero"

Al Jazeera English journalist Drew Ambrose, who produced a documentary "Locked up in Malaysia's Lockdown" -- detailing the abuse of migrant workers during the Covid-19 pandemic last year, has won the Journalist of the Year award at the One World Media Awards in London for his work.

The 25-minute episode produced under Al Jazeera's "101 East" weekly segment was the main nomination that led to his win, the other being a story on West Papua's deforestation, reports Free Malaysia Today, a Malaysian daily, on Friday.

Bangladeshi Md Rayhan Kabir, who was featured as the whistleblower on alleged discrimination against migrant workers during the lockdown, had his work permit revoked, detained, and then deported -- an action heavily criticised by rights activists from the region and beyond.

"Big thanks to the true hero -- M Rayhan Kabir -- whose whistleblowing against the Malaysian government for their discrimination against migrant workers during the lockdown led to his arrest, subsequent detention, and deportation," Drew said in his Facebook post.

"You can't do great journalism without brave leaders who speak truth to power. Despite immense pressure put on Rayhan, he never recanted his testimony," he said.

In the episode which aired on July 3 last year, Al Jazeera focused on the Malaysian government's crackdown on migrant workers, claiming that the authorities had treated migrants poorly during the Movement Control Order period to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Subsequently, seven AJ journalists were questioned by a Bukit Aman police interrogation team for various alleged offences, including sedition, defamation, and improper use of network facilities.

Drew was among four of the journalists from the 101 East team who had their work permits canceled and told to go home.

The panel of judges in London described the work as "honest, fearless, and thorough", adding that Drew's exceptional reporting placed the stories and voices that all too often go unheard at the top of the news agenda and demanded answers on their behalf.

Commenting on his award, Drew said: "It's an honour to receive this award, particularly in a year when the pandemic has posed such serious challenges to global news coverage. As governments around the world continue to impose greater restrictions on the media, revealing what is going on behind the scenes has become more vital than ever."

The documentary has also won a Telly Award in America and a Human Rights Press Award from the Hong Kong Correspondents Club. The Global Investigative Journalism Network listed the episode as one of the best pieces of reporting in 2020. It was also shortlisted for the One World Media's Coronavirus Reporting Award.

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