Seventh BAT edition kicks off

Wong (second right) joining BAT members (from left) Bong, Wilfred, Patricia and Peter for a photo call at Crown Towers before they begin the seventh edition of the annual excursion which will take them to various parts of the state. — Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: The award-winning Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT) set off on a 16-day journey yesterday, kicking off the seventh edition of its annual excursion focusing on rural development that will take its members to various parts of the state.

Armed with their mighty pens, The Borneo Post journalists Peter Sibon, Wilfred Pilo, Karen Bong and Patricia Hului will be scouring at least 10 major towns and cities including Sri Aman, Sibu, Kapit, Belaga, Bintulu, Miri and Marudi to discover and report on interesting places and issues that are seldom highlighted in the media.

The Borneo Post and Utusan Borneo editorial director Phyllis Wong, who was present to send off the team at Crown Towers, said traditionally, BAT travels to rural areas, reaching out to the rural communities during the month of Ramadan when there are comparatively less activities in the cities.

“The dedication and untiring efforts of the team leader, who is a senior reporter and head of the special desk, Peter Sibon and the team members should be emulated by other colleagues. I hope other reporters who have not been part of BAT before will volunteer to join next year and the years beyond.

“The same appreciation goes to the reporters in their home base in rendering help to those travelling and the editors who work efficiently to get the late news coming in according to the travelling schedule of BAT on the road.”

Wong, who will be joining the team later in the trip, noted that BAT has travelled the length and breadth of Sarawak highlighting local issues and the unique lifestyle and happenings in places they stepped foot in.

“We thank our readers comprising people on the street, government officers, elected representatives, professionals and community leaders for their support and hospitality extended to us.”

BAT’s work over the years was acknowledged by the late Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who commended BAT for highlighting local issues and regarded their reports as representing useful and valuable input at the grassroots-level for his administration to act upon.

At the Kenyalang Journalism Awards last year, Adenan had said: “We are picking up these issues and will be going on an outreach programme to hold bottom-up dialogues to solicit input and feedback from the local community on social issues like substance abuse and drugs so that we can develop social action plans that will be more inclusive and comprehensive.”

Wong said: “BAT members remember Adenan’s great concern for the people. When BAT V (in 2015) reported on the difficulties faced by SJK Ek Hua in Mukah to raise another RM600,000 for its school rebuilding efforts, the next day, the Kapitan received a call from Adenan who pledged RM200,000.

“He is a man who walks his talk. I want to use present tense here because for BAT, this former journalist (Adenan) lives in our hearts. His wisdom, encouragement and support for freedom of the press by asking us to be brave to bring up social injustices and balanced reporting are things all journalists in the state will hold on to.”

She believed that the present Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg’s team or Team Abang Johari, while continuing Adenan’s legacy in various initiatives, is supporting the media practitioners in the same way as they discharge their duties to inform and educate the people through balanced reporting.

“I wish BAT a smooth and fruitful trip in bringing up issues closest to their hearts, which include but are not limited to the difficulties and lack of infrastructure, clean water and electricity, and the dilapidated schools in rural areas as well as the positive developments carried out by the state.”

Meanwhile, Peter said, like in previous trips, BAT will focus on highlighting matters like local political, social and economic issues from the rural perspective, with special attention given to the basic infrastructure and schools in the areas visited.

“Like Sri Aman, which is our first destination today (yesterday), we want to highlight what are the needs and aspirations of the local people and what are the things they expect for Sri Aman in the next five years.”

Peter said throughout their trip, BAT members would also highlight the unique local food in the town or city they are visiting, as a way to help promote the respective area to readers.

“We will be covering almost half of Sarawak…maybe even more. It is a repeat of what we have done in the past trips. Now that we have new team members, perhaps we can do things from a different perspective and angle.”

Rhino Motors has also kindly provided the team members with an SUV to use during their journey. The team will be travelling in A Isuzu MUX which features all the bells and whistles to suit any form of driving.

“With the new Isuzu MUX, we expect the car to perform well. We are also grateful to our company for granting us the budget to come up with something different in this edition of the BAT excursion,” Peter said.

Source: The Borneo Post

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