10 March: Readers pointed out to me after this posting yesterday that the Sarawak government included journalists in their first phase of vaccination. 13 veteran journalists were picked, according to reports. Hats off to Abang Jo.
It's nice when someone acknowledges your existence. Better still, if whatever it is you're doing is recognized, praised, remembered. Pop Meals, a popular local fast-food name, made us at the National Press Club of Malaysia feel very appreciated today: they have offered to donate RM5k from their proceeds to our Journalists Welfare Fund to help reporters and photographers in need during the pandemic. We have to do a bit of work to get that money, though, so if you'd like to help, click HERE (pls come back later).
At the press conference in Cyberjaya, I thanked Cik Nurul Jamaludin, the Comms boss for Pop Meals, for having us journalists/NPC/JWF in mind. It helped because Mr KH Lim, Pop Meal's PR agency, was a long-time journalist himself. In the last one year, hundreds of journalists have lost jobs as newspaper companies and news sites buckled under the economic slowdown. The thing about us at the NPC is that we are so shy about asking for help. "Journalists would be so loud when we champion a cause but when it comes to our own predicament, we tend to suffer quietly," I said. Which is why we cherish friends like Pop Meals. They paused to ask if we needed help.
Last year, the Petra Group (before it launched The Vibes in September and then their Bahasa Melayu news site Getaran) approached the NPC and offered to help journalists during the pandemic. Hong Leong Bank also came forth to donate much-needed funds. Since 2006, the Journalists Welfare Fund has helped some 150 journalists, including a Bernama journo who was killed on duty in Somalia.
We at the NPC don't make it a habit to ask the Government for handouts but, I told the press conference, it would be nice if YB Khairy Jamaluddin, our de facto vaccine minister, would recognize the role of journalists as frontliners in the war against Covid-19 and make us part of the priority group for vaccination.
As of March 8, according to the Health DG, over 166k have received jabs for Covid-19, says DG) I don't know of any journalist among those 166,363 people.