Man sued by HRDF rejects allegation, shows letters on journalist status

Ida Lim
A general view of Malaysiakini’s newsroom in Kuala Lumpur May 24, 2018. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — M. Krishnamoorthy has denied the Human Resources Development Fund’s (HRDF) allegation that he falsely claimed to be a journalist to go on a sponsored training in Germany, providing letters to support his position.

Krishnamoorthy said he has over 190 news articles published by news portal Malaysiakini, also asserting that he is still a “freelancer” for Malaysiakini, local daily The Star and several publications abroad such as the New York Times (NYT).

“I am 70 years’ old and have been a full-time journalist for more than 35 years and my name has appeared in the major mainstream newspapers and news portals,” he said in a statement to Malay Mail to clarify the matter.

He showed a letter dated September 10, 2018, from the NYT which among other things said: “This is to certify M. Krishnamoorthy is a freelancer for the New York Times”.

Krishnamoorthy was commenting on the lawsuit filed by HRDF over its sponsored training programme “The Industry 4.0 and Digitalisation Programme for Media” conducted by K-Pintar Sdn Bhd from December 4, 2017, to December 10, 2017, in Berlin, Germany.

HRDF said it paid RM53,385 in training cost for each participant who fulfilled the condition of being a journalist with a media company at the time of application, alleging that Krishnamoorthy had unjustly enriched himself by going on the programme by claiming to be a Malaysiakini journalist despite knowing otherwise.

HRDF claimed Krishnamoorthy had on November 18, 2017, submitted his application in which he allegedly represented himself as a journalist with Malaysiakini and that he also allegedly attached an edited payslip that suggested it was from Malaysiakini.

HRDF asserted that it received confirmation around December 2018 that Krishnamoorthy was not a journalist working with Malaysiakini then.

In his statement to Malay Mail, however, Krishnamoorthy said that he did not violate any laws in his application to join the programme, noting that his lawyer Sankara Nair had said that organiser K-Pintar would not have approved the application if he had not complied with the requirements.

Krishnamoorthy showed Malay Mail a letter from Malaysiakini dated November 29, 2017, to K-Pintar, in which Malaysiakini’s general manager confirmed that he had been a “freelance journalist” with the company for the past eight years.

At the time of the application, Krishnamoorthy said he was a “freelancer” for Malaysiakini where he contributed news and columns and local daily The Star.

He explained that he did not receive monthly payslips from Malaysiakini as he was a “freelance writer” for the company, and that he had informed Malaysiakini that he was applying for the Germany programme as a “freelance journalist”.

Krishnamoorthy said he had in his application to K-Pintar stated he was a freelance journalist for Malaysiakini, and provided a payslip from Xiamen University Malaysia where he was working full-time as a journalism associate professor.

“(It was stated ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR in the payslip). No cause for misrepresentation because I hold the job of professor with Xiamen University Malaysia, and K Pintar and HRDF were duly informed in this regard,” he said.

He also said he made a draft of RM5,000 from his personal savings for the trip to the travel agency appointed by K-Pintar.

Pointing out that the six-day workshop in Germany was not a pleasure trip, he said it was an educational visit with full attendance of classroom lectures required.

“I was attending the Workshop in two capacities, namely a freelance journalist and as an associate professor to gain knowledge on the latest developments of 4.0  Digitalisation workshop to share the knowledge with journalism students in the university,” he said, adding that the only requirement was for participants to write an article upon their return.

He said he wrote and published an article in Malaysiakini four days after the workshop ended, providing a link to the article titled “Big data analytics may be against privacy and democracy, journos learn”.

HRDF had in its December 2018 lawsuit sought RM53,385 from Krishnamoorthy over the training, while Krishnamoorthy had in his statement of defence filed this month asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

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