ST's Malaysia bureau chief, young journalist bag wins at SPH Media Trust awards
When he heard about how Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob would be meeting top opposition leaders last August, Mr Shannon Teoh had an inkling it would be significant.
Having covered Malaysia news since he joined The Straits Times(ST) in 2014, Mr Teoh knows how to navigate the political landscape and he sensed that change was afoot.
After making a few calls to official sources, he broke the story that the Malaysian prime minister had offered his rivals reforms in return for their support in Parliament.
Mr Teoh, who is ST's Malaysia bureau chief, delivered the story even while the political leaders' meeting was ongoing and two weeks before the authorities confirmed this.
On Thursday (Feb 10), Mr Teoh, 40, was recognised as Journalist of the Year at SPH Media Trust's (SMT) annual journalism awards for its English/Malay/Tamil Media Group.
Commenting on his win, Mr Teoh said: "This is down to the support and team spirit of my colleagues at the Malaysia bureau.
"At the bureau, everyone has each other's backs. We cover for each other so that we can deliver exclusives and master a wide range of beats, from crime and security to politics and economics."
The Young Journalist of the Year award went to Ms Jean Iau, who covers the crime and courts beat.
The 26-year-old ST journalist was described by her editors as having a knack for getting interviewees to share their most private thoughts and feelings.
Ms Iau won multiple monthly awards in 2021 for her stories about teenage drug traffickers and family reunions.
She said on receiving the award: "I am really happy (to receive the award) and was quite shocked to be nominated in the first place. It is a nice surprise."
Her motivation behind her stories is to understand more about the victims. She said: "The more family members or loved ones you talk to, (the more) it shows how (the victims) were loved and what the family is going through."
She added that she is also mindful not to push family members too hard when talking to them about the incidents.
Two of her most memorable stories from last year are her interviews with Madam Ang Goon Lay, whose daughter, Lim Shiow Rong, was sexually assaulted and murdered in 1995, and Madam Rahimah Lee Abdullah, whose son, Mohd Ridwan, died after a basketball hoop fell on him in July last year.
Ms Iau said she spent a week with Madam Ang in her coffee shop in Toa Payoh as Madam Ang was reluctant to be interviewed and photographed initially.
Eventually, Madam Ang opened up to her and showed her a box containing memories of her daughter.
"I still visit Madam Ang every now and then, and she seems like she's always happy to see me," she said.
The Story of the Year went to Ms Anita Gabriel, a senior correspondent at The Business Times, for her scoop on Singapore's largest independent electricity retailer iSwitch exiting the market.
Ms Michelle Ng from The Straits Times, Ms Shahida Sarhid from Berita Harian and Mr Irshath Mohamed of Tamil Murasu were also nominated for the award for their exclusive stories.
Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH Media Trust's English, Malay and Tamil Media Group and editor of ST, said: "The purpose of these awards is to showcase quality content we are all proud of... across all our platforms, so we want to get behind, celebrate them and cheer our people on."
Congratulating the winners and the four newsrooms, Mr Patrick Daniel, SPH Media Trust's interim chief executive, noted how in the current media landscape, it has become increasingly difficult to capture the attention of audiences.
He added: "It's part of the ambition of the media trust to grow its international audience. (When) the newsrooms work together, that's when we can really unleash our potential."