Journos at forefront since pre-Independence: Minister honours Abdul Samad’s legacy at Hawana 2024

Fahmi (fourth right) along with other distinguished guests in a photo with the winners of the photography competition during the launch of 2024 Hawana Exhibition at Plaza Merdeka on May 25, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 25: Journalists have been at the forefront even before Malaysia achieved independence, wielding their pens to oppose colonialism and inspire the fighting spirit.

Federal Minister of Communications Fahmi Fadzil paid tribute to Tan Sri Abdul Samad Ismail, one of the founders of Utusan Melayu, as a key figure in this struggle who significantly contributed to the anti-colonial movement as a journalist.


“Established in 1939, Utusan Melayu served as a platform for nationalist leaders to demand independence.

“Consequently, May 29 has been designated and gazetted as National Journalists’ Day (Hawana), in honour of the publication of the first edition of Utusan Melayu on May 29, 1939,” he said when addressing the launching of the 2024 Hawana Exhibition at Plaza Merdeka today.

Fahmi (seated centre) together with other distinguished guests at the launching of the 2024 Hawana Exhibition at Plaza Merdeka on May 25, 2024.

Due to the importance of Hawana, Fahmi emphasised that the Madani government decided to continue this initiative, which also safeguards the welfare of journalists.

“The inaugural celebration was held on April 11, 2018, in Kuala Lumpur. However, it was halted for three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It later resumed in Melaka in 2022 and in Ipoh, Perak last year.

“This year, we are very pleased that Sarawak is hosting the largest gathering of Malaysian journalists. I hope that Hawana will continue to look after the welfare of journalists and dignify the media industry in this country in facing all the challenges ahead,” he said.

Sarawakian journalists at the KDJA booth at the 2024 Hawana Exhibition on May 25, 2024.

Fahmi emphasised that in the digital age, journalists must possess a range of skills beyond writing, such as photography, videography, and editing, to meet readers’ demands.

Additionally, he noted that today’s journalists must compete with netizens on social media in terms of speed while maintaining integrity and ensuring the authenticity and accuracy of information.

“The ability to tell stories through multimedia and data journalism, for example, has emerged as an important skill in the modern journalism era.

“The era after the pandemic has changed the way of working, thus providing a different approach from the traditional way of reporting. The onus is now on media practitioners to adapt to these changes, ensuring they overcome challenges without compromising journalistic integrity and principles,” he said.

Meanwhile, the event also witnessed the presentation of prizes to the winners of the ‘Media in Action’ photography competition.

Photos of media in action displayed at the KDJA booth during the 2024 Hawana Exhibition on May 25, 2024.

The HAWANA 2024 exhibition runs from today until May 27, showcasing the evolution and history of journalism in Malaysia, particularly in Sarawak. A total of 17 agencies are participating, offering visitors information and engaging activities.

Participating agencies include the Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas), TVS, National News Organisation (Bernama), Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) Sarawak, Malaysia National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) Sarawak, Sarawak Information Department (JAPEN), Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Kuching Divisional Journalists Association (KDJA), and Uda Holdings Berhad.

The exhibition features a variety of programmes, including live interviews, stage events, and the opportunity to experience professional news reading at the Ukas booth.

Deputy Minister in the Premier of Sarawak’s Department (Corporate Affairs and Ukas) Datuk Abdullah Saidol, Deputy Sarawak Secretary (Operation) Datu Hii Chang Kee, Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, and Bernama chief executive officer Nur-ul Afida Kamaludin were present. — DayakDaily