Malaysiakini at 15: Standing tall against the odds

opened its doors to visitors to celebrate its 15th anniversary and to launch its new home late last year. Visitors poured into the new building, dubbed @Kini, in Petaling Jaya, close to Kuala Lumpur, which includes a brick wall dedicated to supporters who helped sponsor the construction.

Members of the news website’s team provided guided tours around the building and some of the 1,040 contributors to the Buy-a-Brick campaign were shown the bricks inscribed with their names. The launch party included fireworks, a lion dance, live music and a gala dinner.

Co-founder and CEO Premesh Chandran told supporters that Malaysiakini hopes to provide more than just news, but also other forms of media where it can “focus our vision of democracy, social justice, and freedom of expression”. The website has been trying to secure a newspaper publishing licence for several years, but the authorities are refusing to comply with court rulings in Malaysiakini’s favour.

The portal’s other co-founder, Editor-in-Chief Steven Gan, said that the many attacks faced by Malaysiakini over the past 15 years have failed to break their resolve and likened Malaysiakini to “pesky school kids” who keep poking the bully in the eye and refuse to go away.

Testaments to Malaysiakini poured in and many were posted on a dedicated page. Typical of the tributes were those of Axolotl, who commented, “A toast to Malaysiakini – and to the restoration of decency, justice, honesty, freedom and integrity in this beloved homeland of ours called Malaysia”; and Onepen, who wrote,Congratulations for standing tall against all odds for telling the other version of the story. We need journalists to bring their version of the story to us without fear or favour. We, the Malaysian citizens, want to know all sides of key national issues before casting our vote.”

“We were declared traitors by one prime minister, Mahathir, and sued by another, [current PM] Najib Razak,” Steven Gan said. “We faced debilitating cyber attacks, were kicked out of press conferences time and time again, and once raided by the police where 19 of our computers were taken away.

“And when all these attacks failed to break our resolve, they even resorted to black magic by splashing red paint and leaving a half-dead duck at our doorsteps. By the way, the duck – like Malaysiakini – is alive and well.”

The @Kini building provides website staff with modern, open facilities in which to work and gives Malaysiakini a strong and stable platform from which it can expand operations.