|The PM and SM Nasaruddin at the NPC Awards|
|My swan song|
|My fellow Kembara Bumi Suci riders in their latest riding gear|
|Media bosses with Shabery Cheek and TM's Zamzamzairani|
Spiritual journeys and my last NPC Awards: The first thing Najib Razak asked me as he got out of his Perdana at the Majestic Hotel was: "How was your trip?" He was referring to my motorcycle expedition to the Holy Land that ended just last week. "Spiritual, Sir," I replied and, aware that the PM leaves for China today to mark 40 years of bilateral ties started by his father and our second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, I added, "China, especially, awesome." Later over dinner, after having given away prizes for the eight major winners at the National Press Club Awards, he asked if my Kembara Bumi Suci riders had covered Xian, one of the places he would be visiting. You could see his excitement about the upcoming visit. "It must be close to spiritual, Sir, this visit of yours to China," I said. "Yes ... and emotional," he answered.
The two months that I hadn't been blogging (72 days to be exact) were the longest time away from the keypads. The KBS had left KL on March 14 (Najib had launched the project a few days earlier at Sri Perdana) and we arrived in Madinah 61 days later after covering more than 17,000 km (of land, sea and even air; tarmac, sand and ice) and 12 countries. After performing the Umrah, I flew back early last week ahead of the team in order to help organise the NPC Awards; I have been the Organising Chairman since its inception in 2011.
The evening went well, the hall was packed, the sponsors happy and we got Shabery Cheek's ministry to come on board for the first time. Najib's take on today's journalism was honest, especially the part of his speech about being forced to drag unscrupulous media practitioners to Court. Government and Opposition politicians do it (sue journalists and media organisations); it's part of the democratic process, he said. It's a balance between allowing for a liberal media and a need to keep one's good name against journalists who defame because of their own political agenda.
I've never subscribed to this simply because we have politicians who take journalists and the media to Court over the slightest of hurt simply because they can afford it and because it is politically expedient to do so. They speak of Press freedom but they are the first to suppress the Press when they have a bit of power ...
The third NPC Awards will be my last, I've decided. Time for the enthusiastic Club exco to take the event to another level next year. My mind rests on two things: organising the next great motorcycle adventure before the year is out (e.g. ride to 40 cities in China to commemorate the 40th anniversary) and making sure my pals and I are protected if and when we get sued for the things we write on our blogs ...