Malaysiakini News

And here comes the difficult part

Steven Gan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Five years ago - at our fifth anniversary - I paid tribute to Harun Rashid. A prolific writer and Malaysiakini columnist, Harun did not make it to our 2004 get-together.

mgg pillai smiling Tonight, we hail another doyen of Internet journalism - MGG Pillai ( left ). Also a Malaysiakini columnist - unlike Harun - MGG was at our fifth anniversary. He died two years after. Had he lived to witness the 2008 tsunami, he would have said, "I told you so."

Also not with us tonight is SC Chan ( below ), better known in Malaysiakini as Tony Thien. Tony, who was our Kuching correspondent, had almost single-handedly helped ensure Sabah and Sarawak remain prominent in the frontpages of Malaysiakini .

T tony thien seng chai chan 220709 o MGG and to Tony, both of you are sorely missed, and whereever you are, our thoughts are with you tonight.

It's now our turn to bear their torch. We must not, and cannot, fail them.

An unenviable task

It has been 10 tough, frustrating and yet exciting years.

In the process, we have upset a lot of people. Where we were wrong, I apologise. Where we were right, we're just doing our job. No hard feelings really - some of you are even here tonight.

A decade ago, the few of us at Malaysiakini set about doing an unenviable task.

NONE Along the way, we gave Dr Mahathir Mohamad a pain in the neck. We gave Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's spin-doctors a run for their money. Looking ahead, we intend to put Najib Abdul Razak's 1Malaysia to the test.

Indeed, our task is not done. As we close one chapter, we are opening another. This new page has yet to be written. We know not what story we are going to tell.

But in Chapter Two, our mission will remain the same. It's our job as journalists to hold politicians - be they government or the opposition - accountable to those who put them in power, to give a voice to the voiceless, the disadvantaged and the marginalised.

Independent financing

We have done the easy part - putting Malaysiakini on the map. More difficult, however, was for Malaysiakini to be financially stable.

NONE Independent media needs independent financing - that has always been our unwritten motto.

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.

When the online editor of New York Times came to KL to speak to us about our business model, surely we must be doing something right.

NONE All this, thanks to the thousands of subscribers for forking out RM20 every month to access Malaysiakini .

But as we grow, so too are our costs.

Both subscription and advertising alone may not be able to sustain Malaysiakini . Which is why we cannot quite figure out how free websites elsewhere can survive.

In the months to come, Malaysiakini will be leveraging on our content, our technology, our know-how, our 10 years of experience - and most of all, our passion - to venture into new areas.

Our aim is to ensure that Malaysiakini can continue to grow to better serve Malaysians.

After all, only by being financially independent can we be truly independent.

Go to the people

And talking about mottos, allow me to share my own - this came from 'Old Master' Lao Tzu, a great Chinese philosopher.

NONE He 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."


STEVEN GAN is Malaysiakini co-founder and editor-in-chief.

And here comes the difficult part

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'Here's to 10 more years of independent media'

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