MNS upset with agencies in Pos Malaysia controversy

Susan Tam

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is the latest party to voice their 'disappointment' over the alleged plagiarism controversy surrounding Pos Malaysia’s newest stamp collection.

Its president Dr Maketab Mohamed said the MNS was disappointed by the agency appointed by Pos Malaysia, which claims that the images posted on the official Pos Malaysia Facebook page were mere ‘drafts’.

“And even if these were 'drafts', the use of images without permission is still wrong,” Dr Maketab said.

The MNS, in a statement on Friday, recorded its unhappiness with issues of copyrights, allegations of infringements and misidentifications in the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014 stamp collection.

The stamp series, which features different species of birds and other nature-based topics, was scheduled to be released soon by Pos Malaysia.

Dr Maketab said he hoped this incident would be a reminder for all commercial parties to be mindful of the hard work and passion of wildlife photographers and birdwatchers, so as to recognise, credit and reward them for their intellectual property.

“As a long-term measure and drawing on its members and resources, the MNS is always available to act in an advisory capacity to all with regards to promoting the celebration, awareness and conservation of Malaysia's unique wildlife and plants,” he added.

In the meantime, Bernama reported that the Tourism Ministry has planned a meeting next week with Pos Malaysia, the design agency and others involved in the campaign to clear the air over this controversy.

The report quoted the ministry's deputy director-general (planning) Azizan Noordin, who said that the designer had “approached and sorted out matters with the photographer”.

Azizan also explained that the promotional stamp project was handled by the design and consultant company and had not been handed over to the ministry.

No photographers were identified in that report.

The controversy began when a Manila-based wildlife photographer accused Pos Malaysia of stealing his photo and using it without his permission in the VMY collection.  In an online digital photography forum, Filipino photographer Romy Ocon had detailed how he found out and compared his original photo against a montage of the VMY stamps.

Romy initially told us that he would sue the agencies, but after consulting with lawyers, he said he would not be going to court as he was satisfied to have embarrassed the government agency.

Romy is not the only photographer accusing Pos Malaysia of photo theft. Singapore-based American photographer Con Foley had also confirmed that one of his photographs was featured in the upcoming stamp collection. He claimed he was neither contacted nor credited, and was considering legal action against the agencies involved

The design agency involved in this VMY collection is World Communications Network Resources Sdn Bhd.

On Monday, its design house Media Eye Sdn Bhd told us the series was only in a draft stage and subject to final approvals.

World Communications Network Resources is controlled by Jaffri Amin Osman, while its other directors are Shaik Sulaiman S. Mohamed Ismail and Yasmin Osman.  The company's paid-up capital is RM5 million, with its latest financials showing RM4 million in revenue at the end of June and profit of over RM70,000.

This consultancy has also serviced clients such as Bank Negara and the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.