Malaysian-born photojournalist Marcus Yam wins Pulitzer Prize

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian-born Los Angeles Times journalist Marcus Yam has won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

He won the coveted award for his poignant, searing pictures taken during the fall of Kabul, Afghanistan to Taliban fighters.

“A journalist with a warrior’s courage and a poet’s heart, Yam delivered pictures of unspeakable tragedy,” said the Los Angeles Times on Monday (May 9).

The paper added that Yam was able to take the photos despite being manhandled by one of the insurgents, saying that he also overcame the technical hurdles of transmitting images out of a war zone.

It said Yam’s prize was for what the judges described as “raw and urgent images of the US departure from Afghanistan that captured the human costs of the historic change in the country”.

Yam shared the award for breaking news photography with four photographers from Getty Images.

The four won the Pulitzer Prize for their comprehensive photos of the Jan 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

Yam’s editors said the journalist employed an “almost radical open-mindedness” to capture scenes that epitomised the chaotic end of the United States’ 20-year occupation of Afghanistan.

His award was the 49th Pulitzer Prize for the Times since 1942, including six gold medals for public service.

“You were out there doing amazing things and what you have done with the photography and the images were so important for the world as the word ‘genocide’ really needs to be said. Your pictorial brings it home,” said Times owner and executive chairman Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong of Yam’s win.

Yam, 38, was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur and became a photographer after leaving a career in aerospace engineering before joining the Times in 2014.

He was previously recognised among others with an Emmy Award for news and documentary, World Press Photo Award, Dart Award for Trauma Coverage, Scripps Howard Visual Journalism Award and Picture of the Year International’s Newspaper Photographer of the Year Award.