Co-founders Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran tonight thanked thousands of Malaysiakini subscribers for their support in keeping the 10-year-old news portal "financially independent".
At the Malaysiakini 10 th Anniversary Dinner at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Bukit Kiara, Gan told the 1,000-strong crowd that the founders' unwritten motto has been "independent media needs independent financing".
" Malaysiakini today is one of the two news websites in the world - the other being Wall Street Journal - which have made the subscription model a success. It's a feat which has gone relatively unnoticed," said Gan, who is Malaysiakini's editor-in-chief.
"When the online editor of New York Times came to Kuala Lumpur to speak to us about our business model, surely we must be doing something right.
"All this, thanks to our subscribers who fork out RM20 every month to access Malaysiakini ."
According to chief executive officer Chandran, Malaysiakini subscribers have "voted with their wallets against the tide of free content".
"Over 117,000 stories and 2,000 videos in four languages, published to an audience of two million unique readers - when we launched Malaysiakini , we never believed we would get this far," said Chandran.
"Indeed, Malaysiakini has exceeded the expectations of the founders, the staff and all those who took a leap of faith with us."
Chandran cited public intellectual Din Merican, who wrote in his blog recently about Malaysiakini : "Never in the history of Malaysian journalism have so few brave men and women done so much in the cause of freedom and democracy."
Blue ocean turns red
Chandran noted that the 10th anniversary marked "the end of Chapter 1 of the Malaysiakini story".
"What used to be a dangerous ‘blue ocean' waters has now become a ‘red ocean' with new ‘independent' news portals being launched regularly.
"Whereas Chapter 1 was about building a ship in hostile waters, Chapter 2 seems to be about maneuvering the ship forward towards new unchartered territories, developing new competitive advantages and reaching out to new audiences," he said.
" Malaysiakini will be embarking on this journey with the same zeal as we did 10 years ago. We are preparing, looking forward to the mobile and the Internet TV space, as well as exploring social media.
"Our goal is to have the ability to reach every Malaysian and beyond. As before, this can only be achieved with your support."
Among those who attended the anniversary dinner were Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim (PKR) and a number of his cabinet members, Information, Communications and Culture Deputy Minister Heng Seai Kie (MCA) and Shah Alam parliamentarian Khalid Samad (PAS).
Gan, in his speech, referred to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu in describing Malaysiakini's mission.
"Lao Tzu said: Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say, ‘We have done this ourselves'.
"And so with Malaysiakini , it is not just reaching our destination that is important. When we do get there - hopefully very soon - Malaysians will say, ‘We have done this together.'"