IJF 2013: A journalistic journey to enhance fellowship

Remarks by Datuk Chamil Wariya, CEO of MPI at the official launching of International Journalism Fellowship 2013 on 2nd of September 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. The programme was officially opened by Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, Editor in Chief of Berita Publishing.

Selamat datang and welcome to MPI. On behalf of MPI’s Board Members, it is my honour and pleasure to extend the Institute’s warm welcome to  all guests: participants and non-participants alike to the IJF’s opening event this morning. MPI and its collaborators and some of them are here with us today are humbled and proud to declare our sixth year orchestrating this international programme for journalists originating from the developing world. This time round, we have six foreign participants from five countries – Bahrain, the Philipines, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. And also Malaysia of course.

MPI’s special appreciation goes to Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, the editor in chief of Berita Publishing who will officially launched the 6th IJF shortly. Datuk Kadir has served journalism with distinction, starting as a cadet reporter with Bernama, our national news agency in the late 1960s; then he moved to the NSTP group where he ended his career as its editor in chief. He is also the recipient of the highest award in the field of journalism in Malaysia – The Tokoh Wartawan Negara or Malaysia Journalism Laureate.  Datuk Kadir was also my boss when I was with TV3 news in the late 1990s. Now apart from managing his own publishing company, Datuk Kadir also blogs. Just have a look at the Scribe, when you have the time later. And see for yourself the high standard he has set in blogging – an act that many of us may not be able to match.

YBhg Datuk, ladies and gentleman,

Being our sixth year on this particular programme, we at MPI would like to believe in IJF’s design and content has as much as possible served the needs of a growing journalist not only in Malaysia but also abroad. When the 6th IJF ended at the end of the month, a total of 122 journalists from 23 different countries of the developing world have had the opportunity  participating in this unique programme. I would like to thank the Malaysian government – especially the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia (then known as the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture) and also to the office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia and other sponsors for their generous support to make this program a reality. Terima kasih daun keladi.

As expected the participants are here to expand knowledge and refine skills. But I personally understand the subtle mission of IJF is to be more than the exercise of the journalistic craft. The core concept and ideal of IJF are centered on the term fellowship. Fellowship implies many things; association between those sharing similar interest and common ideals, or building networks among those afar and in situation ordinarily not possible for them to interact. But personally for me the most curious of it all is a chance to communicate to strangers in a foreign environment. Although as journalist we are habitually forced to communicate with strangers in our daily routine I do hope by being part of this fellowship these strangers participating the programme will build strong and sincere relationships in the upcoming thirty days. And post-IJF of course.

Speaking about foreign environment: to our participants and especially to our foreign participants, MPI will be your second home from now on and as host MPI would like our guests to be as comfortable as possible while you are here. We have the like of Puan Mai, Puan Fiza and Puan Ambia to babysit you throughout your journey in the next four weeks or so. So fasten your seat belt and have a pleasant journey.

I’m glad to tell you that this programme is not all about strenuous mental work. As with the previous years, the programme is filled with many outdoor activities that are entertaining. New cultures and experiences await you— even to our local participants. My only caveat to you is for you to not lose all sense of purpose when you are undertaking this programme. The participants are after all present today due to the opportunity provided by their respective organizations. It is only reasonable for one to fulfill and lived up to their news organizations expectations as well.

And to guide your IJF journey for the next four week, we have line up speakers with impeccable knowledge in the respective area of expertise. See your programme to know who they are. But let me just remind you that the IJF programme is not an introductory course about journalism. Each participant today is in fact already a walking, thinking, working journalist. As such I would like our participants to comprehend self-progress that is beyond the elementary. While our facilitators and instructors are willing to assist, try not to be too dependent upon them. Leave that rookie attitude behind. The participants must set themselves above the facilities provided by the programme.

Another learning aspect that I would like to remind the participants concerns teamwork.  Every year, I have noted the diversified characteristics of our participants in their beliefs, practical knowledge, skills and of personality. Some of you are much experienced or more driven than the others. While some of you may find yourself overwhelmed in an alien environment.  You are unsure and restrictive. In this regard I implore that both groups to take advantage of the situations. To those that are confident I suggest that the upcoming group situations and scenarios will be good testing grounds to test one’s own persuasion skills. The sum of the programme’s experience might in fact be useful leadership know-how for future references. For the overwhelmed, my only advised to you is to have courage.  And have it as early as possible. Too often that I witnessed in the previous participants that bloomed a little too late. Do not wait for the last remaining days of this course to be a participating member of the class.

Finally, I hope you will find the programme beneficial in enhancing your career and enriching your knowledge in Malaysia. As they say in here, “tak kenal maka tak cinta”. Selamat berIJF.

And now, it is my pleasure to invite Datuk A. Kadir Jasin to address the group and officially launched the 6th MPI International Journalism Fellowship programme. Thank you Datuk and the floor are yours.