November 6, 2016
In Solidarity with Malaysiakini
A few years ago, I had the privilege as a Fellow of Seacem Center of working with both Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan and the group of outstanding journalists at Malaysiakini. I found them to be a group of thorough, brave, loyal and hardworking Malaysians who were bringing news and views about issues affecting our country.
I learned first hand what they had to go through to bring to us timely and accurate information about what is happening in, and to our country and elsewhere. Everyday, when I arrived at my work place at Malaysiakini office then in Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur I would pass the wall of their rented premises which was blemished by red paint marks sprayed by pro-UMNO lawbreakers. I would be reminded of the hazards these committed journalists face daily. Since that time, I came to admire and respect their courage for speaking the truth to power and their commitment to the highest standards of journalistic reporting.
Like them, I never shied away from speaking the politically inconvenient truth and like them I will through my blog, twitter and Facebook accounts and other peaceful means hold men and women in positions of power– be they in politics, public administration, and business–to account for their decisions and actions. Threats and intimidation would not work with us.
Today, Gan, Chandran and their team are facing existential threats from UMNO-sponsored and Najib-supported Red Shirts led by that despicable. irresponsible, and racist Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos.
By threatening the news portal, the Red Shirts are breaking the law. But as things stand today, the hooligans are above the law because they are connected to UMNO, which controls the levers of power in Malaysia. Even our Inspector-General Police has no guts to stand up to the Red Shirts.
Together my wife Dr. Kamsiah. G. Haider, I stand in solidarity with Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan and the Malaysiakini team. They deserve our support for doing their job splendidly.
I hope you, my loyal readers and friends around the world, will also stand up for Malaysiakini and freedom of the press. We all face existential threats from forces more powerful than us, but let us be reminded by William Shakespeare that “cowards die a thousand times”. –Din Merican
Malaysiakini controlled by its journalists, not outsiders
by Zikri Kamarulzaman
“When it comes to outsiders or even Malaysiakini shareholders influencing our editorial, that is completely impossible,” Gan said at a press conference following the red-shirts rally outside the news portal’s office in Petaling Jaya today.
Gan said even the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), which owns 29 percent of Malaysiakini, had no say in the website’s editorial policy.
He explained that the two had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) when the venture capital made the investment 10 years ago, agreeing that the latter would have “no editorial say” in Malaysiakini.
Gan was responding to red-shirts leader Jamal Md Yunos, who said Malaysiakini’s editorial was not independent and that it bowed to the will of American business magnate George Soros.
Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) is one of 50 MDIF investors and funders, which include a number of European banks. Malaysiakini had also received funds from the OSF for two KiniTV news programmes in Sarawak.
Gan said the real influencers in Malaysiakini’s editorial policies are its journalists.
“We have daily meetings, and all Malaysiakini journalists and editors decide on what to report and follow up on,” he said.
Elaborating on the company’s shareholders, Gan said that he and Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran (above) were the majority shareholders, a total of 59 percent. Besides the 29 percent owned MDIF, 12 percent are owned by Malaysiakini staff.
Meanwhile, he said there was only one politician among the scores of shareholders in Malaysiakini.
Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah, who is from the opposition PKR, has a very small stake after investing RM5,000 in the company 17 years ago when he was a human rights lawyer. “That was 10 years before he decided to run for Parliament. His share is 0.001 percent. It’s really minor,” Gan said.
Up to 700 red-shirts had turned up for the rally against Malaysiakini this afternoon, which lasted about two and a half hours.
The protest was spurred by leaked documents which allege that Malaysiakini, Bersih and Merdeka Centre were being funded by the OSF.
Jamal had originally wanted to hold a rally in Dataran Merdeka, but moved the location to Malaysiakini’s office after Kuala Lumpur City Hall denied both the red-shirts and Bersih permission to gather at the historic square.