Both Tamil and Bahasa Malaysia readers of Malaysiakini have reasons to rejoice today - they will now be able to read Malaysiakini in their own languages for free.
Beginning today, new website MalaysiaIndru.com will post Malaysiakini news reports in Tamil. The free site will also carry its own news reports as well as features, letters, opinions and editorials.
MalaysiaIndru, which means ‘Malaysia Today’, is a joint effort by Malaysiakini.com and Semparuthi Publications - publisher of monthly current affairs magazine Semparuthi.
Malaysiakini is supporting the initiative by providing its news material on a royalty-free basis, as well as offering technical, editorial and marketing assistance.
The five full-time members of the MalaysiaIndru team are based at Malaysiakini’s office in Kuala Lumpur’s Bangsar Utama.
"MalaysiaIndru intends to set the news agenda among the Tamil-speaking community by offering independent, insightful news and in-depth analyses and commentaries," says the website’s editor Jiwi Kathaiah (right).
"We will not only be translating Malaysiakini’s news and video clips, but we will ensure that major events of concern to the Indian community are well-covered and discussed," he added.
By publishing today’s news today, MalaysiaIndru believes that it will quickly become the leading source of news for the Tamil community.
"In the age of mobile phones and SMSes, breaking news stories can quickly be disseminated to the Tamil community at large," said MalaysiaIndru’s publisher and Semparuthi representative K Arumugam.
"We believe that MalaysiaIndru can be a major force and a voice for the community during these times of political transformation."
MalaysiaIndru will also help bring Malaysiakini news to an even wider audience.
"Since we launched the Chinese and Malay language sections in 2004, our readers have been requesting for a Tamil language section," said Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran.
"After the Nov 25 Hindraf rally, we have been flooded by even more e-mails pleading for news in Tamil. We have finally been able to make this happen and are proud to collaborate with Semparuthi on this ground-breaking project."
Four languages, one team
The launch of MalaysiaIndru fulfills Malaysiakini’s ambition to publish in all the four major Malaysian languages - English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil - making it the only media organisation in the country to do so.
"While most Malaysians can speak more than one language, we need to recognise that many of us still prefer to use our mother tongue in our daily lives," said Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan.
"Despite working in various languages, Malaysiakini is different from other media organisations in that all sections work together in one place. We may have four languages, but we’re still one team."
Gan said that Malaysiakini aims to provide a common platform for all ethnic groups to discuss important issues confronting a complex multi-cultural nation like Malaysia.
He said that no one person, let alone the government, can provide solutions to the perennial problem of national unity.
"For that, we need all 27 million Malaysians to talk to one another so that we can better understand the angst and the aspirations of the various communities. Only then can we begin to seek the necessary compromises." stressed Gan.
With the advent of MalaysiaIndru, a new group of Malaysians can now join in the discussion of national issues.
Also beginning today, Malaysiakini is offering its Bahasa Malaysia language website to all readers for free.
"We made the decision in response to requests that Malaysiakini should be read by as many people as possible at this crucial time when the country is facing a general election," said BM section editor Nash Rahman.