So you may have come across this documentary a couple of weeks ago.
Some of you might have heard of Al Jazeera or even 101 East. For those of you who haven’t, Al Jazeera is a media network that originated in Qatar. They call themselves one of the world’s leading media companies, with more than 80 news bureaus around the world. 101 East (who are based in Malaysia btw), on the other hand, is a weekly television program by Al Jazeera that focuses on stories across the Asia-Pacific.
In the video above, 101 East goes through great lengths to get to the bottom of the Altantuya case. In it, they speak to various people about the case, including Altantuya’s father, whom until today is still trying to get to the bottom of her murder. Besides that, they also speak to an alleged relative of one of Altantuya’s murderers, Sirul Azhar Umar, whom Sirul sought refuge from in Australia.
But what was really badass was that in the midst of doing this story, reporter Mary Ann Jolley actually gets stopped while getting off a plane in Malaysia, without any reason from the authorities. But instead of like panicking, she starts filming herself getting deported! (That footage is actually included in the documentary.)
But the Altantuya video above is just one of many, many videos by 101 East. And honestly, after we watched it (you should watch it too, you know, before it gets blocked and all) this is how we saw the people at 101 East.
It’s not the first time that 101 East has done some pretty amazing work la. In fact, some of our articles were based off stuff that they’ve done (like this & this). And CILISOS has met with 101 East before, in fact, they’ve even sent us a list of documentaries that they’ve done on Malaysia. Some reaching the same levels of gagah perkasa-sery of the Altantuya one.
And because we’ve actually already written a similar Altantuya article before, we won’t be focusing on her murder case again. Instead, here’s a list of some other badass documentaries 101 East has done on Malaysia.
1. When they forced questions onto an untouchable crime lord
We think 101 East is your typical Lois Lane type of reporter. They do everything they can and go through great lengths to get to the bottom of things. Only difference is dun have Superman to always come to the rescue la. But that doesn’t scare them from facing off with some (alleged) supervillains of their own.
‘Return of the Lizard King’ sounds more like a Spiderman comic book title/movie than anything else but it’s an actual title of theirs. In it, they tried to get a hold of Anson Wong, which their sources claimed to be among the top 2 illegal wildlife smugglers in the world. It has been reported that he was previously convicted and jailed 5 years for his crimes but only served 17 months before he was released.
In the documentary, our then Environment Minister, Datuk Seri G. Palanivel even said that he’d never heard of Anson Wong.
So, 101 East basically goes undercover to, in their words, ‘hunt the hunter’. They track down smuggled wildlife, they meet with people who know Anson Wong, heck they even pretend to be wildlife buyers to meet with dealers. And get this, the investigation took a whole year!
But all that time spent looking for him is worth the effort,if just for that one moment of badassery when they found and confronted him. The conversation doesn’t go too well la to say the least. *Warning! Spoiler alert!* The video below is set to go to that exact moment when they find him. Just letting ugaiz know in case anyone wanna watch the whole process of finding him.
It’s a shame really that the Lizard King managed to once again slither away.
2. When they ventured deep into the night to seek out indian gang members
Klang Malaysia has a lot of gangs la. We hear about them all the time. We tell people to don’t go to this area, or avoid that group of people, or don’t get into a car with a senior gang member late at night. 101 East did the exact opposite la.
In ‘Malaysia’s gang menace’, 101 East actually goes to the streets/slums/low cost flats & speak to various people about gangs in Malaysia. They go to some really dodgy areas to speak to parents who are worried that their kids get involved in gangs in the day, and youths at night. This documentary even served as the basis of one of our articles.
But imagine just arranging a meeting with a senior gang member, get into his car and go jalan-jalan late at night. Like you know, just leaving your house at night, and your mom asks you where you going off to and you just casually say “Oh, I’m just going out to meet my old friend Raj, he’s a high ranking gang member.” And your mom throws a fit but you just walk out with the ‘thug life’ music playing, with some explosions thrown in for good measure.
K sorry. Got a bit carried away. But you can watch the actual scene below la.
That is aside from just going up to random groups of people on motorbikes, late at night, at some low cost housing area, to ask them about why they were there.
3. When they secretly recorded their meeting with a dodgy immigration company
101 East covers a variety of topics on Malaysia. In ‘Worked to death’, they discuss the issue of how life as a foreign worker in Malaysia quite teruk la. Once again, they take to the field to speak to many foreign workers.
At one point of the video, it comes to their attention that there is a company that was aiding illegal foreign workers in getting amnesty from the M’sian gomen. The company did not do so and many believed that it was a fraud, taking money and passports with them. So 101 East presenter, Chan Tao Chou, fixes a hidden camera to himself, takes an employer of foreign workers with him, and storms into a meeting with them with more storms than the Storm Riders themselves.
You can watch how they keep pressuring and pressuring the officials until they back down.
The end result? The employer gets back the passports of his workers & a full refund for the fees they charged him for.
But that is only one part of the video la. While we are talking about badass stuff here, the thing that hit us the most in this video was the fact that an average of 4-5 migrant workers in Malaysia die IN ONE DAY. And very few of them receive any form of compensation at all.
4. When they disguised as priests to get into a M’sian refugee camp
The gomen told them no, so they decided to utilise a less…conspicuous method to gain information.
In ‘Malaysia’s unwanted’, 101 East explores the issues faced by refugees in Malaysia.
“The Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur has one of the world’s largest populations of people seeking asylum.” – 101 East
Despite that, the Malaysian gomen does not recognise these people as asylum seekers. Instead, they are illegal immigrants, because Malaysia did not sign the UN convention recognising refugees, and thus refugees only use Malaysia as a transit point to relocate to other countries.
And as the documentary progresses, it reaches a point where 101 East attempts to enter one of 12 detention centers in Malaysia to film the living conditions in these dentention centers. After they are denied access, 101 East presenter, Steve Chao, goes all James Bond superspy on them. He goes undercover as a priest bringing supplies for the refugees(with his van of supplies of course), equipped with a hidden camera.
They never knew what hit them.
But they also utilise the hidden camera during other instances. Posing as refugees they record their meetings with people who claim that they can help speed up the relocation process, and how that leads to a suggestion that there are higher-ups in the UN who take advantage of the refugee situation. 😯
5. When they asked Najib really difficult questions
In 2010, 101 East actually managed to score an interview with our PM, Najib Razak. And they weren’t afraid to put him on the spot, or even press him for answers.
“Many people have said that the affirmative action has led to a generation of Malays who feel that they are entitled to these special priviledges. There are some minority groups who feel sidelined, they feel second class because of the affirmative action. These are what the critics are saying about the affirmative action. Do you really think that there is still a need for affirmative action? Why not just make it affirmative action for all races?” – Question from 101 East presenter, Fauziah Ibrahim, to PM Najib Razak.
We’ve set the video below to jump to his answer.
But that is just one question out of many. He is also questioned about the Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trials where she presses him on his opinion of Anwar’s first trial.
“Do you think the first (sodomy) case was political?” – Question from 101 East presenter, Fauziah Ibrahim, to PM Najib Razak.
Our PM’s answers were long and elaborate. You’d probably be better off watching the whole thing than for us to tell you everything that was said. 😉
6. All the times they tried their best to get a balanced view from both sides
101 East has done many, many videos on Malaysia, going all the way back to 2007. In their earlier videos they actually did a lot more interviews where they would get 2 people representing different groups to dialogue with one another. Like when they reported on Lynas and facilitated a discussion between a gomen & opposition member.
And in our opinion, the episode “Malaysia election”, is one of their best attempts at doing so. As the title suggests, the topic was the GE13. 101 East chaired a dialogue between Nur Jazlan (BN), Tony Pua (DAP), and Ibrahim Suffian (Merdeka Center) which not only had these 3 people discussing issues but comments from the audience as well.
We understand that this video may not seem very badass, but bear in mind they facilitated a discussion between gomen and opposition, and kept it civil. That is a feat in itself la, knowing that exchanges between them can get a little out of hand.
Could 101 East be an example of what journalism should be like?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word journalism to be “the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio.” By that definition, the people at 101 East (and to some extent, CILISOS) are journalists la. But hold up, what if we told you that 101 East is not just very good at what they do, but also stands above many others in the field of journalism?
Take a look at this list of the awards received by 101 East.
Other Malaysian media not say dun have awards la. E.g. The Star has quite a number of local awards and some awards on the Asian level on their list, and Utusan has an article about the time they won something back in 2002. But you gotta admit that 101 East has done well to establish itself even on the international level consistently! And that’s an amazing feat for a media company where most of their videos only get about 4-5 figures worth of views on YouTube.
And so we commend 101 East la. Not just for telling the story of Altantuya, and not just for treading where other journalists fear to tread, but for doing journalism and doing it in style.