Monthly Archives: January 2014

‘Addicted to Malaysiakini’, PKR reps buy bricks

A group of PKR parliamentarians from Selangor, Penang and Sabah have pledged a total of RM14,000 toward the cost ofMalaysiakini’s new office – and all because they are ‘addicted’ to its content.

They lauded the portal, which celebrates its 15th anniversary in November, for consistently producing “the best, most independent and the fastest news”.

“I have to admit, many of us are all addicted to Malaysiakini,” said Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin (left) said when handing over his donation to CEO Premesh Chandran yesterday.

“It is an honour to be part of this because we support independent news that’s worthy. Right now, there are many news agencies but seldom do we see one as committed (as this one) to press freedom and to (producing) independent news.

“I know many who live overseas who get the news faster than me … I think they are also addicted … so I urge them to also donate.”

Sim, who is PKR’s deputy national publicity chief, said he had lobbied colleagues to support the ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign, which aims to raise RM3 million for Malaysiakini’s new office in Petaling Jaya.

Sabah MP Darell Leiking (left) also said he frequently reads the website.

“I am proud that I can participate in giving something to the news portal that I have been addicted to for many, many years,” he said.

“I am not embarrassed to admit this because Malaysiakini has been consistent. During (general) elections, it has given us free news, so a lot of friends were able to access the latest happenings in politics.”

The Penampang MP had this advice for the portal: “Do not go to the other side. Keep impartial and carry on.”

Wangsa Maju MP Tan Kee Kwong (right) urged Malaysiakini to fight for “a better country, a fairer country” despite the occasional blows it has received. He was referring to action by the authorities over the content posted.

“To those who are in charge ofMalaysiakini, please continue this fight and we will try our best to spread the news to our business friends to contribute generously to your new building,” he said.

‘Do support press freedom, too’

The PKR parliamentarians who pledged RM1,000 each were those representing Wangsa Maju, Petaling Jaya Selatan, Kuala Kedah, Bayan Baru, Batu, Subang, Ampang, Kapar,  Teluk Kemang and Alor Setar.

Those representing Lembah Pantai, Sungai Petani, Pandan, Penampang, Padang Serai, Kuantan, Kelana Jaya and Batu Pahat pledged RM500 each.

Late last year, DAP parliamentarians had bought 40 bricks at a total of RM40,000.

“We would like to thank MPs who have come forward to support the project. However, we also hope to see more MPs from both sides of the divide contributing to press freedom,” saidMalaysiakini project manager Lynn D’Cruz.

Since the public fund-raising campaign kicked off on Nov 15 last year, supporters have contributed more than RM1.2 million.

Donors can buy a limited edition brick and have their name engraved on it with a contribution of RM1,000. Out of the 1,000 bricks on offer, fewer than 300 are currently available.

The bricks will be used to create an ‘appreciation wall’ in the new building, named @Kini. Part of the premises will be made available for public use.

Please click here for more information on how you can get involved.


‘Malaysiakini is one lamp that must keep shining’

Since Malaysiakini published ‘Intoxicating ecstasy of Buy a Brick campaign’, the independent news portal has raised another RM130,000 from the public, bringing the grand total so far to RM1,236,200.

We ask our readers the reason behind their support for the project and Malaysiakini’s inbox has been flooded with responses.

Here are the few which best express the sentiments of those supporting the ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign:

Loh SH, age 65, retired from 30-plus-year career in financial/investment services

“I believe Malaysiakini tries to fulfill that independent press role. That alone is worthy of support. I don’t have much to say of the mainstream media except that none appears independent of political influence.”

Dato Lee Hwa Beng, 59, retired MCA politician

“Press freedom is a vital part of a democracy and Malaysiakini is the only one that dare to be free. So supporting this campaign is for our future.”

Lokman Salleh, 54, COO of a company

“Press freedom is a must for a truly democratic country.”

Antares Maitreya, writer, musician, blogger, Facebooker, jungle chef

“Co-founders Prem Chandran and Steven Gan were two career journalists with the courage, integrity and vision to see that an independent news source was absolutely crucial to the survival of whatever little democratic space remained.

“It was a bold undertaking fraught with tremendous risk, financial as well as personal. Fifteen years later, Malaysiakini has not only survived countless obstacles but has in fact thrived as a trusted purveyor of political reportage nobody else dares publish.

“Without the relative freedom of the Internet and a fearless and independent source of news, Malaysia would certainly have spiraled downwards into the abysmal depths of totalitarianism.”

May Chee Chook Ying, 53, homemaker

“We can only live in the light; Malaysiakini keeps our path well-lit. This is one lamp that must keep going.”

Myop101Malaysiakini commenter

“To be free, one has to be informed. Getting a brick is a small price to pay for freedom.”

KJ John, retired government officer

“A free media defines a freer country. I supported the brick campaign so that Malaysiakini can get a brick and mortar office to support their agenda to free Malaysia!”

Philip, retiree

“As a caring Malaysian, I valued truthful and independent news reporting of the nation. My contribution is a vote for unbiased freedom of news reporting.”

Ashraf Iqbal, 49, self-employed

Malaysiakini has proven itself to be worth supporting. As a nation, we do need a press that will report the news fairly…

“The comments section is a good gauge of the maturity and balance thinking of its readers. So I take it as a good proxy for what the urban middle-class Malaysian is thinking.”

Low Peck Chen

“I support the Buy a Brick campaign simply because I follow my heart.”

SF Young

News in Malaysia has been a pity,
Misleading the people terribly
The people are really thirsty,
For news that are fair and worthy
It has been a long wait for the mighty,
To report the news of reality
Bringing the bad to their knees,
That’s why WeSupportMalaysiaKini!

Timothy T

“I believe in the power of the pen that writes for the better without fear nor prejudice. I pray that the Malaysiakini pen will continue to be one for the next generation and generations to come. This is why I supported Malaysiakini in this campaign.”

Teo Nie Ching, 33, Kulai parliamentarian

“Support Malaysiakini as we need journalists whose hands are not tied to supervise both BN and PR.”

Mocking YouMalaysiakini commenter

“Spending the RM1,000 on something that may be beneficially lasting to many is way better than indulging own self, be it a five minutes thrill or a bottle that gives nothing but a hangover.”

Dr Peter Jesudason, cardiologist

Malaysiakini is for me a beacon of journalism because it is editorially independent. Malaysiakini presents news in a fearless but more importantly, in an honest and for the most part, balanced manner.”

Solomon Morais, 56, creative director

“A brick that stands for a change for good.”

Prodyut Dutt, 56

“I do not always agree with Malaysiakini, but I do not doubt their integrity and the importance of having a credible alternative voice in our country.”

Hannah Yeoh, 35, Selangor speaker and Subang Jaya state assemblyperson

“If we do not support Malaysiakini, one-sided mainstream news will prevail and Malaysia will return to her former days. And I do not want that.”

Stephen Leong, businessman

“I strongly support the ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign, because I believe that through Malaysiakini’s open and truthful publication we will see a new and better Malaysia moving towards freedom from injustice and corruption.”

Rev Dr Tan Kim Sai, 64, retired pastor and scholar

“ I see Malaysiakini as a social justice venture which has contributed significantly to the building of a more just and open civic society in Malaysia through the effective dissemination of news and views which really matter. I wish to see Malaysiakinigrow from strength to strength in years to come.”

CC Leong

“At present the reporting from the main media which is controlled by the governing party, is not reliable. They are full of propaganda reporting. We very much needed a media which can report the truth for the public to know.

“Having one’s own building, Malaysiakini can have the piece of mind to work freely without having to face the problem of eviction. We have been reading Malaysiakini since its inception and find it very enlightening to hear the truth…”

Dr Leong Shown Chong, 61, physician

“I believe Malaysiakini will be instrumental in nation-building. Provide a platform for the seekers of truth and the oppressed. That it will analyse and report without fear or favour. Believes that the truth will set us free…” funders

“Supporting Malaysiakini is also supporting the freedom of speech. I support Malaysiakini for the same reason that I support freedom of speech, democracy and human rights.

So, when Malaysiakini announced that it needs a new home, we at quickly jumped in at this opportunity by sponsoring Malaysiakini a brick worth of RM1,000.”

Tai Hean Kiat, a diehard supporter of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prince of Peace

“I’ve supported the Malaysiakini campaign because, as an ‘anak’ Malaysia and a netizen of this global village, we deserve the right to have access to world-class information that is collected and written impartially and professionally.

“Let’s contribute a brick no matter how insignificantly it may seem, but it shall bring about the cracking of the great wall of censorship that has long shackled the human spirit in ignorance and fear, through a lack of freedom of information.”

Supporters in kind

Malaysiakini would also like to thank those who have come forward to offer help in kind.

We have had people offering to help sponsor the cement, pests control, signage and electrical works. A number of companies have come forward with special rates for the air-conditioning, office furniture and painting.

We will soon be looking for contractors with the best bid for the renovations of @Kini – Malaysiakini’s new building at Section 51 in Petaling Jaya. We hope to move into our new home by the middle of this year.

And there are 270 bricks left!

Malaysiakini will close the ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign when we hit the target of selling 1,000 bricks for an ‘appreciation wall’ in the new building.

For more information on the campaign, click here.


Intoxicating ecstasy of ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign

COMMENT The phone rang again for the umpteenth time a month into the launch of Malaysiakini’s ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign. A nervous voice came on asking to speak to the brick person.

“Hi, this is Lynn, the brick person…”

“Okay, hello! I’m not sure what to say. You see, I am studying in Perak. I want to buy a brick. I’m not rich. I have no money but I think it is important for me to do this.”

More often than not, I am completely lost for words. The boy is 22 years old. He told me that he is studying and working part-time to collect money for his brick and needs more time.

“I have already collected RM700. You wait for me, okay.”

I promised to wait. I put down the phone and allowed a wave of tears to wash over me.

Malaysiakini does not belong to us, but to the public.

1Having started this campaign with gusto and optimism, we were initially thinking about just moving to a new place so that we could grow our operations. However, we were about to be shown the true sentiments of the Malaysian public. This was not something we were entirely prepared for.

On Nov 15, 2013, the first day we launched the campaign, RM22,000 poured in and we filled up over 50 pledge forms. Today we have over 600 people who have come forward to help the cause.

However, the jewels of the campaign are in the individual stories.

A better place

An elderly man wrote in and asked if he could place the names of his late father and mother-in-law on the brick. I assured him that this was not a problem. He said, “I want them to be remembered in a good place. Malaysiakini is a good place.”

We have had senior citizens who can hardly walk climb up our stairs, come into the office and sign cheques for the campaign. One woman, immaculately dressed and well in her 70s, said, “This is a horrible place to work, so dangerous, you guys need to work in a better place…”

She goes on to share how she does not read anything other than the news from Malaysiakini. Before she left she said, “Don’t worry, you will get your money. The public will support you.”

2Indeed, the public has showed up for us loud and clear. We have four corporate organisations who took up the bigger sponsorship but wanted us to be discreet about their contribution. Almost 70 percent of the funds raised were from individuals from all over the world. We have had Malaysians in Germany, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, and India supporting the cause.

Some of the supporters are thrilled that we are doing this; they make unannounced appearances at the office to take a picture with their brick. We are happy to have our supporters visit the Malaysiakini office. However, the visit always ends up the same.

A supporter came with his son. Both, especially the father, were so wildly excited to be in the premises of Malaysiakini. “I am a huge fan,” he said time and again. “I want my children to understand the importance of independent media… I am buying a brick for each one of them.”

3The wild excitement will slowly give way to heavy silence when we take them on a tour of the office. Half of them leave shell-shocked and finally understand why having a new place is so important. Half of them leave saying things like, “I cannot believe you all work like this, the place is so cramped… and all those great news… from here?”

It is not that bad, I assure them. We are a family, a close-knit one. When there is the warmth of the family, all else fades into insignificance.

But through this campaign Malaysiakini is forced to realise that family is beyond the confines of our office walls. It includes the public who were relying heavily on what they believe in as the truth. We understand that our jobs have nothing to do with our own survival but for the preservation of a public which believes in us.

At the stroke of midnight

We see this with all the letters and hundreds of phone calls we received. One supporter wrote, “Thank you so much for executing my requests with such efficiency and your lovely note.

“We on our part would like to express our deep appreciation for your effort in establishing a truly free media. We are aware that so many of you are working under very difficult circumstances and still persevere.

“What is more encouraging is that more and more young journalists are getting more and more mature in the breath and depth of their reporting…

“As such, Malaysiakini has also become a very much needed platform for bringing up high-quality journalists in Malaysia, thus upholding the integrity of journalism in the country.

“Finally, to be able to do our little part towards your huge endeavour for a free press in Malaysia, the honour is really ours.”

As the clock ticked to 00:00 on New Year’s Day, a doctor from a remote part of Malaysia decided that he wanted to spend his new year banking in RM1,000 for a brick. I was moved beyond words.

Many people banked in money that day and we hit our first million target on Jan 1, 2014. The whole office was thrilled. We could not have received greater news.

Fifteen days into the new year and we have raised an additional RM100,000 from the public. We are truly grateful for every sen we receive and we will not give up on our ambitious RM3 million target.

We must say that we have been terribly lucky in finding our building’s interior designer, Ambrose Poh, and brick engraver, Ashley John. Both came to us without as much as an invitation. Both have been an absolute pleasure to work with. Both are huge fans of Malaysiakini as well.

Ambrose has worked with us over six months. He has spent countless hours working with the Malaysiakini team in understanding us and trying to invent a space that will accommodate best our varied personalities and the personality of the organisation.

4Ashley John is truly a miracle worker. We have called him and asked him to get bricks engraved on short notice and he has never once disappointed us. Diligently, every week, he and his workers would bring into the office – the bricks carefully wrapped in plastic cling wraps.


For a greater good

I have only ever organised two birthday parties, one of which turned out to be a flop. I could not really breathe when I was made to manage the fundraising and overall building projects.

However, I will forever be indebted to Malaysiakini founders Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan for having faith in me. They gave such an important task to someone with no credentials or experience in the field except for the fact that I myself love Malaysiakini with all my heart and want the absolute best for my colleagues who have have taken centre-stage in my heart these past few years.

We struggle so much in the world wearing masks and being what we think the world wants to see. So few and rare are the opportunities to be real. In Malaysiakini, we are allowed to be real. And because we are allowed to be real, we thrive magnificently.

For this fundraising, my secret allies have been my bosses and colleagues. They have risen to the occasion and I have said this many times before, should I send out an email asking for help, within three minutes one of my colleagues will reply.

We sit together, we talk, we share our fears, we share our personal stories, we get ill together, we hold each other’s hands in the dark, we pull each other out of exhaustion, we cheer each other on – this is everything Malaysiakini. Many of us here have made personal sacrifices for what we believe to be a pressing need in the country.

We have missed parties, we have put holidays on hold, we have chosen to stay back late to the exclusion of a social life, we have our families missing us, we know each and every one of us has made personal sacrifices for a greater good.

We collectively know that what we do, we do in good faith and with hope that someday our children will reap the fruits of our labour.

We know none of what we do today is about us as individuals. We know that the only way to save this country is to make sure that the public is given the right to independent news.

Extension of campaign

To date, we have made a collection of RM1.1 million. We thank each and every one of our supporters who are rooting for us to have this campaign end in a raging success. For us, it already is. What we have received is much more than we expected.

6We initially set a target of raising RM3 million by today – Jan 15, 2014. However, due to numerous requests, we have decided to extend the campaign until the 1,000 bricks are sold.

We currently have 624 bricks sold. Another 376 bricks and we will have a great ‘wall of appreciation’ at our new building. So, let’s do this. Let’s build something great together!

And we will see every one of you at our office-warming party once we have moved in later this year.

For more information on the ‘Buy a Brick Campaign’, click here.


‘Buy a Brick’ campaign crosses RM1mil mark

Over a month into Malaysiakini’s ‘Buy a brick’ project, the fund-raising campaign finally crossed the RM1 million mark on Jan 1, 2014.

“We are overjoyed to hit one million. It is a great new year’s gift from our readers and supporters,” said the independent news portal’s chief executive officer Premesh Chandran.

0fce44e9bf81322f6fa6a4b98ce028a8Premesh (right) added that the campaign will continue after the initial deadline of Jan 15.

“We will be extending the campaign until we get 1,000 sponsors for the bricks. At the current rate, we should be able to hit the target by February,” he said.

The campaign is to raise an ambitious RM3 million for Malaysiakini’s new building in Petaling Jaya, where a portion of the building – named @Kini – will be open to the public.

It was launched on Nov 15 last year, and was originally slated to end in two weeks. To date, it has raised RM1,006,700 – in less than 50 days.

According to Premesh, 535 supporters have so far bought the bricks worth RM1,000 each, while the rest of the money came from smaller donations and large corporate contributions.

Each supporter will have his or her name embossed on a brick, which will be used to build an ‘appreciation wall’ in the new building.

In addition, supporters will receive Malaysiakini subscriptions and advertising equal to the amount contributed.

Public support ‘incredible’

@Kini was purchased at the price of RM6.1 million. Inclusive of renovations, duties and fees, the total cost is estimated to be around RM7 million.

Malaysiakini plans to pay RM1 million in cash upfront and seek RM3 million in bank financing. To alleviate the burden, Malaysiakini is looking to its supporters to raise the rest of the money.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini project manager Lynn D’Cruz said reaching the RM1 million mark was a milestone.

She added that the news portal is still hopeful of reaching the RM3 million target and public support has been “incredible”.

“For us, the journey has gone beyond reaching the RM3 million target. Now it is about ensuring that Malaysians will continue to have access to independent news and views,” said D’Cruz.

“With the new building, we can further grow our operations, not so much for our sakes but for the sake of those who have believed in us.”

Please click here for more information on how you can get involved in the campaign.