That was in 1997.
I joined Astro in 1996. Ria channel was in development. I joined the Commissioning Department; the senior writer/editor. Basically we read proposals, picked the best ones and monitor the productions. We were creating programs for the up-coming Ria Channel.
When I came to Astro, Raz was already there. Piles of proposals on her table. A sight to behold!
Later Zainal came in from Utusan, then Afdlin Shauki and many more. Nurjannah, the commissioning officer came in her early pregnancy. And then Nik. Nik struck me as a soft-spoken girl, sweet and her eyes spoke volume of her determination to be an accomplished scriptwriter. Out of the lot she was the most innocent.
Unlucky for us our Chief Commissioning Officer, Mahadi has to leave early due to an office misunderstanding. So I took over. I did not become the chief. Only a senior officer. He remained the undisputed chief!
Finally, Ria was born somewhere in 1997.
Everything was smooth sailing. Everybody was jubilant. The economy was thriving. As part of a team that created Ria the success was sweet and important.
There were talk of bubbles bursting in the economy but the then Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir consistently denied it.
The financial meltdown came in October, 1997. It came hard and unforgiving.
Ria has to be revamped.
Our consultant, Shuhaimi Baba and Channel manager, En Wan Ibrahim left because their contracts have expired.
New consultant and new boss came in. Rumors that the commissioning department will be closed was prevalent.
The wiser ones left immediately. Some joined other departments (Adnan Awaluddin was one). Nurjannah and Zul were invited to join the new setup.
Raz, Nik and me were undecided ( there were others, maybe but I forgot who).
One day I was called by the new consultant. It was 7 pm. I entered his office. He was a man of few words. He stripped me of my authority. I was permitted to come to office and collect my paycheck but no work! No more office duty. In short I was cold-storaged.
The next day in the kindest possible words I told Raz and Nik to get out, fast. And I tendered my resignation.
Raz and Nik were so obstinate. They stood their ground. Raz, I can understand. But the soft-spoken Nik? I was bewildered.
The auditors came. Sensitive questions about the deeds of the defunct commissioning department bombarded me relentlessly. Earlier when I joined Astro, Shuhaimi Baba cautioned me to always back up my decisions when discharging my duties. She told me office politics could be nasty. I took heed. That saved me! Everything I did was documented and endorsed by my superiors. My bosses have long gone. Over time the auditors left me alone.
Before I took a month holiday Ria celebrated my departure. I had a feeling the new setup was glad that I was leaving gracefully. I too was glad. I cannot imagine being a prisoner in Ria.
My concern was Nik and Raz.
But there was nothing I could do.