Journos shouldn’t be tragic “heroes”

There is a lot of pointless political posturing around the death of BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor. Opposition politicos going on about how charity begins at home, that Instead of helping Somalia we should be looking after our own.

By their reasoning, we should ignore all pleas from outside. No helping Japan, Palestine, Indonesia, no. Let us be honest here. It is not that Malaysians do not need aid but that Somalia is desperate in a way our countrymen aren’t. We can spare some aid. My only issue is with the means it was given.

Of all the people we could have sent, why send Putra 1Malaysia? Why couldn’t we instead channel funds directly to organisations already in Somalia instead of spending money to send our people there? We didn’t need to send our journos there – we have newswires to give us the updates on the state of the ground.

There are allegations the team was ill-equipped and ill-prepared for the mission. I wonder if the people going there realised just how dangerous and unstable Somalia is. Did the Bernama crew know just how much danger the trip posed? Did they understand there was a possibility they might not return?

If Putra 1Malaysia wanted to run a humanitarian mission, why couldn’t it get a member to document the proceedings instead of bringing a journalist along? Was it worth it, risking journalist lives to cover what they were doing?

I say they never should have gone. Or at least, not force media to come along. Did media even have a choice? If you want a means of documentation that does not bleed, then bring a camera. You can’t as easily replace a human being.

Many of the journalists who knew Noramfaizul are angry. They grieve a friend and compatriot. They know he deserved better. All journalists deserve better than to be collateral damage in a mission as flawed as this was.

1 Comment


  1. ·

    Somalians are, in equal terms, clannish, territorial and xenophobic. Part of it is cultural and the other part of it is circumstantial — Somalia has not been united under a functioning government since 1991.

    Because of this, they react with great hostility to any foreign incursion into their land, and more often than not, aid workers and journalists are perceived as invaders.

    Going in without understanding and respecting this fact is not only naive, but disastrous. The Somalians themselves do not want foreign intervention. They did not ask for it. And they certainly regard any attempt at intervention as a conspiracy to install a foreign-backed government, which they will fight tooth and nail to prevent.

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