29/05/2024 10:51 AM

By Fadzli Ramli

KOTA KINABALU, May 29 (Bernama) -- The government's initiative to cover Social Security Organisation (Perkeso) contributions provides vital protection to Sabah's part-time media practitioners, especially when reporting in risky and hazardous areas.

Harian Metro part-time journalist Mohd Nazlie Zainul noted that covering news in Sabah's remote regions is challenging and exposes media workers to high risks.

He mentioned that part-time journalists are also at risk when reporting on disasters to inform the public, making the government's Perkeso initiative timely and appropriate.

"This is an excellent initiative. Although it lasts only one year, it allows part-time journalists to consider continuing the contributions for their protection.

"Unlike permanent journalists with insurance, part-time journalists do not have such provisions. Therefore, the Perkeso contribution safeguards us against untoward incidents while on duty," he told Bernama.

During his speech at the National Journalists' Day (HAWANA) 2024 celebrations in Kuching, Sarawak on Monday, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil announced that the Ministry of Communications, through the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama), will fully cover the said Perkeso contributions for one year starting this July.

Utusan Malaysia part-time journalist Suraidah Roslan praised the initiative, saying that although she often works in the field, she has been unable to make voluntary Perkeso contributions.

She explained that the coverage would provide peace of mind because, despite her part-time status, the nature of her job is full-time.

"Journalism often requires entering challenging areas, traveling by boat along rivers, and navigating dirt roads to gather news. Without these contributions, we risk our safety in such environments," she said.

Sinar Harian part-time journalist Norasikin Daineh emphasised that the contributions are crucial for protection during assignments, given the extensive travel distances required to reach coverage areas.

He provided a recent example, covering a court case involving a preacher in Tenom, 150 kilometres south of Kota Kinabalu. The journey was particularly challenging and dangerous, especially when crossing the mountainous Crocker Range.

"Furthermore, many permanent journalists were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic and transitioned to part-time roles without the full benefits they previously had. This contribution will restore those benefits," he explained.

Bernama part-time journalist Emin Madi, who has been in journalism since the 1980s, said this initiative shows the concern of the MADANI Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

"This is a significant recognition for part-time media practitioners like us. The government acknowledges our role in providing up-to-date information to the public and values our contributions to the country," he told Bernama.

He added that the Perkeso coverage boosts his morale and alleviates his worries while covering news in the forests he loves. He had just returned from covering a research foundation in Maliau Basin, Tongod, about 300 kilometres away, renowned as a protected forest teeming with rare flora and fauna unique to Borneo.


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