Somali mission survivors say no bulletproof vests, training

By Boo Su-Lyn
September 04, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

SUBANG, Sept 4 — Young journalists who covered a non-governmental organisation’s fatal humanitarian mission to Somalia said they were not given full training or bulletproof vests in Africa’s deadliest country for media personnel.

Bernama TV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor was killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu last Friday when African Union peacekeepers allegedly shot at a four-wheel drive in which six mission members, including the 39-year-old, were travelling.

Astro Awani reporter Tan Su Lin, who was in the same truck with Noramfaizul during the shooting, said she was not trained on how to cover hostile zones.

“We were told it’s very dangerous, life-threatening,” Tan told reporters at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base here today.

“(But we did not get) bulletproof vests…our car was not marked media. It was just a four-wheel drive,” she added.

The 27-year-old reporter also said that the mission organised by the Putera 1 Malaysia Club — which provided aid to famine-stricken Somalia from August 28 — was her first war-zone assignment.

“There were a lot of soldiers…you see people (walking) around with AK47s and you don’t feel anything. At night, you hear gunshots,” said Tan, who has four years’ experience in journalism.

She added that the shooting happened when the four-wheel drive — which carried six pressmen — was leaving a hotel that hosted the medical team to the media team’s hostel just five minutes away.

“At the corner near our compound, I heard a very loud bang sound. Aji (Saregar Mazlan) was holding his arm… he was in pain. There was blood. The late Noramfaizul was leaning on his (Aji’s) right shoulder. There was a bullet hole in the right window,” said the reporter from satellite giant Astro’s news channel.

Tan also said Noramfaizul — who worked in national news agency Bernama for 11 years — was the media team leader. “It was great knowing him through this mission.”

Aji, a 27-year-old TV3 cameraman who was injured through a gunshot, said he was sad at Noramfaizul’s death.

“I saw a hole in the late Noramfaizul’s right shoulder…he fell on me,” he told reporters, with a bandage around his right arm.

“I got basic training (before the mission),” added the reporter from the Umno-owned broadcaster, but did not specify the contents of the training.

Melissa Ong, a 27-year-old NTV7 newscaster and reporter, said the mission team always travelled in a convoy with other armed vehicles.

“A car would be guarding us with M16s, AK47s. Some of us sat in a bulletproof car; we rotate,” said Ong, who has three years’ experience in journalism.

Like Tan, Ong said the Somali mission was her first assignment in a conflict zone.

War-torn Somalia has not had a functioning government for more than 20 years.

International media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) rank Somalia as the deadliest country in Africa for media personnel, with 23 media workers killed since 2007.

“I didn’t have training. If we’re moving towards that humanitarian direction, we should be given proper training and guidance,” said the journalist from Umno-linked Media Prima Bhd.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 6:20 pm

    I can’t believe those people go to such dangerous places on the direction of Putera 1, in particular its head Azeez. The man and his followers are not qualified to send their children to the corner coffee shop, much less to a place like Somalia..

    How dumb are those journalist?

  2. #2 by DAP man on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 7:03 pm

    Dying UMNO has been scraping the bottom of the barrel to use the tiniest of dust to project its image.

    First they found Mat Sabu’s dust and it has been magnified a zillion times.
    Then it was Somalia. And they will use this death of our poor friend as UMNO’s sacrifice for Islam.

  3. #3 by cemerlang on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 7:30 pm

    You my as well send those khidmat negara people for this stunt. At least they have learned to hold a gun and shoot some bullets.

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 7:39 pm

    No bulletproof vests, training then don’t go.

  5. #5 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 7:58 pm

    Idiots venture where the brave fear to tread.

    OK, Azeez?

  6. #6 by tak tahan on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 10:07 pm

    Why didn’t send our arm forces or Perkosa or the infamous third force,silat exponents?These idiots are only good at bullying their own people.As long BN still control Canland we will completely have no hope la..sure mati katak 1.One blunder after another..stupid government!!!Makan gaji buta!!!!

  7. #7 by tak tahan on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 10:11 pm

    I forgot to include the so-called defender of Umno-jenis-islam,Jais team.

  8. #8 by cemerlang on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 10:46 pm

    We should be thankful for our government BN and PKR for shielding us the citizens from the realities of life. That is why we are like little kiddies who do not know what is danger. When mommy says don’t run to the road, we run further out. Then mommy gets angry and punish us. But we still want to run to the road. Until one day when we run and suddenly a car knocked against us. Injured with a broken bone, we are sent to the hospital for all the painful treatment. Only then do we understand what it is to have the sense of danger. You see, we want to be heroes. We want awards, recognition, increase in salary, have our names written in the Guiness or Malaysia book of records and we want to be known as a great man or woman of God, a great man or woman known in history and be guaranteed a place in heaven. So we go. We think that nothing will happen. The bullet is only 1 inch long. We don’t know. We don’t know that the fighters have lost their human consciencetiousness. The fighters forget what it is to be a human with a heart. A killer has no love. When one has no love, one has only one thing. Hate. Destruction. Hopelessness. We on the other hand. We have a heart because we never have to shoot others, handle weapons; we never have to do that. That is why we do not know. You the politicians also do not know. Our soldiers go out as peacekeepers. They do not go out for war like the other country soldiers. That is why our soldiers still have a heart and doubtfully can kill cold blooded. Malaysia is the good samaritan. At least, the samaritan went on his life alive. But this good samaritan. Look at his mother. Mother holds her child for 9 months in her womb. She watch him grow until 40’s. She is still living. But he has to go first. Even if you can pay the family and ensure his kids go to university and all that, it still cannot bring him back.

  9. #9 by Taxidriver on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 10:52 pm

    Another Najib blunder! Sending a humanitarian team to war ravaged Somalia which doesn’t have a functioning government is both stupid and irresponsible. Besides, the main concern is to supply basic necessities to the hungry, why bring along TV crews and journalists? Should have sent 1000 silat exponents to protect the Malaysian Team if, only if they have the guts to go. Anyway, I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Noramfaizul Mohd Nor. May his soul rest in peace.

    It is my hope that in future UNMO or UNMO -sponsored NGOs pick two or three ministers to lead a mission like this. Don’t send innocent rakyat to their death.

  10. #10 by Taxidriver on Sunday, 4 September 2011 - 11:04 pm

    Najib Adminisration very incosistent when it comes to matter of competency. If they could provide RAPEhin Tamby Cik and Eskay with bullet proof vest when they ‘sumpah’ in the mosque, why were the Team members to Somalia denied of such protection? Is our Malaysian mosques more dangerous than pirate-infested and lawless Somalia?

  11. #11 by wanderer on Monday, 5 September 2011 - 12:52 am

    What’s the problem?…life is cheap as far as this racist and corrupted political party is concerned. Remember TBH, Kugan and others who were murdered senselessly At least, Datuk T could have given his bullet proof vest to our poor fellow Malaysian who was asked to glorify UMNO…it backfired!! This poor soul was made to meet his Creator immaturely…….

  12. #12 by Taikohtai on Monday, 5 September 2011 - 8:19 am

    Next time Bernama should send all their journalists to a BERSIH rally where they can learn how to duck, weave and run before taking on other dangerous missions. 1Malaysia means nothing in overseas conflicts except sitting ducks. Bernama really bodoh and stupid.

  13. #13 by dagen on Monday, 5 September 2011 - 9:03 am

    I recall my singaporean friends words about their army days. They trained with live bullets and real explosives, grenades and bombs; tanks, helicopters and all the rest of the deadly stuff. Like a war zone and the feeling is extremely frightening. And they were reminded that the real thing is much much worse.

    Here our umno bozos drop civilians into war zones with zero training. Not even basic survival training. And they were not even given bullet proof vests.

    Jib jib boleh.

  14. #14 by boh-liao on Monday, 5 September 2011 - 11:30 am

    Well, all young journalists who went 2 Somalia n returned alive shld thank their guardian angels dat they did not return home in a ta pao form; war zone leh, don’t play play

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