Interview with R. Nadeswaran, “Malaysia’s most scariest man”, feared by politicians, corrupted officials, but loved by readers and his Investigative Journalist students.
Interview by Robert Chaen who is a scholarship attandee of KiniAcademy Malaysia’s Muckraking Investigative Journalists Program, full sponsored and funded by MARI (Malaysia Reform Initiative), in collaboration with USAID (United States Agency for International Development).
Nadeswaran aka Nades started his career in 1981 in Malay Mail, an afternoon paper. He spend 17.5 years with the NST (New Straits Times) group, 13 years with The Sun under his column Citizen-Nades.
Nades confessed no one he reported was ever charged except Dr. Mohamad Khir Bin Toyo, the former Dato’ Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of the state of Selangor in Malaysia from 2000 to 2008, who was jailed for one year for corruption as a public servant for obtaining for himself and his wife two plots of land and a bungalow in Shah Alam.
I asked him why he still continues as an Investigative Journalist for 39 years, despite only one person was charged, his reply was simple – PASSION. My take was it is not important the reported persons were charged or not, that is for lawyers to fight and courts to judge.
What is important is TRUTH BE TOLD.
I’m the founder of Purple Youth CSR, where we inspire 5 ways youths can change the world: • Entrepreneurship • Arts • Learning • Charity • Psychology.
Q. What is your advice to youths?
“As a young reporter I’ve learnt about creating awareness, you entertain, inform, educate, part of an information process, and that the citizen’s hard earning ringgit, half of it has been stolen by somebody!” said Nades. But Nades never took any professional degree or course on investigative journalism. He started as a part-time Sports writer.
Nades first biggest exposé was covering uncooked food and meat stolen meant for Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, was taken away by the staff. Suddenly the stealing stopped in all hospitals throughout the country, and patients were getting better food.
Investigative journalism can make a big difference in people’s lives.
But do they want to change?
Q. Why are you teaching investigative journalism to new students as Sifu Nades?
“I can’t take knowledge and experience to the grave. I might as well share it.
I may create another Nadeswaran somewhere.
Nades shocked me. I was inspired, at awe, depressed, and everything (after 1.5 days of training), why?
Because of one statement from Nades, your article should 600-800 words.
Finally I wished I knew all these new knowledge on corruption, investigative journalism much earlier in my life, in my youth, it would have helped me a great deal. But it’s never too late, and the timing was not right. I’m a long story-teller, but I should break up the long story in a series.
I have changed my format. Now instead of being a Lone Ranger, a Hans Solo, I’m now love working with pairs, threes and in small groups as a Team Leader in Muckraking program. Ive moved from just writing my own blog website www.RobertChaen.com to the international stage, playing a bigger game, and raising my investigative journalism and writing to world-class standards.
“When you with others and in a team, you can share your resources, your contacts, your knowledge, your experience. With young reporters, I send the team on the field, to do a price watch, why the price of chili has gone up by 30 cents a kilo, WHY?” said Nades.
More importantly, I now have the networking and connection with MalaysiaKini, KiniTV, The Edge, The Star, Cilisos, ArabNews, Malaysia Corruption Watch, and full access to all Media groups.
Q. Any last words?
“If you don’t have the passion, don’t do it, write fashion instead!” said Nades.
My mother, family and friends don’t understand and ask me why am I doing my writing and investigative journalism exposes for FREE, and my answer is Passion, Truth, Love, and Light.
There is so much darkness in the world. It is immensely fulfilling and meaningful to bring a tiny light to the world through my writing, #Whisperings, #Whistling, and my short stories which one day I aim to make them into a short film, TV documentary, and the short story can be adapted into a script or screenplay of a full length film.
Nades has an elephant’s memory, he remembered something I said in the first 1.5 day of training. Nades wrote in his 8th March 2020 book message to Robert:
“The man who carries a cross but has no axe to grind.”
What a great soul.
Watch the original YouTube video interview:
Watch Facebook video: https://tinyurl.com/sfhz4yb
Background of R. Nadeswaran:
R. Nadeswaran is a journalist by training, a lawyer by qualification and a crusader for good governance by choice. In a career spanning almost 48 years, he covered almost every aspect of news – from sports to business and from conflicts to scandal. He has
won numerous awards both. Malaysian and International, over the years. Nadeswaran has broken some of Malaysia’s biggest stories and pioneered investigative reporting in
the 80s when a new wave changed the facet of Malaysian journalism.
His work includes several exposes of corruption and the abuse of power in government and enforcement agencies, failings in the system and exploitation of migrant workers.
Working in an environment where Press freedom only exists in name, Nadeswaran has
been able to tread the thin line amidst the growing resentment against the Fourth
Estate by the establishment. Advertisements and promotions by the publisher labelled
him as “Malaysia’s Scariest Man”.
However, his biggest contribution to Malaysian society is his no-holds-barred column, Citizen-Nades. In sometimes acidic language, his twice-weekly column questioned government spending, often demanding transparency and accountability. Besides awards for journalism, Nadeswaran has been cited for his softer side – community work.
He was a recipient of the Prisons Director General Award for his involvement in pre-release programmes; He is a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club in his recognition of his efforts in empowering single mothers. He is a regular speaker at local and international conferences and talks on corruption, governance and journalism.
Published: 10th March 2020.
Whistling Confessions of R. Nadeswaran, “Malaysia’s Scariest Man”, Malaysia’s Top Investigative Journalist
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