Visitors are now streaming in to see a new brick wall dedicated to Malaysiakini ’s supporters and other parts of the online news portal’s new office.
Malaysiakini threw open its doors today to celebrate its 15th anniversary and to launch its new building in Petaling Jaya, dubbed @Kini .
Guests are provided guided tours around the building by members of the Malaysiakini team, while contributors of its ‘Buy a brick’ campaign are shown to their bricks.
“I think it is fantastic. It is so impressive,” said writer Saras Manickam ( left ) of the building, after the tour.
“I love the design. It is open and it is creative, but at the same time you’d know it’s serious. I love that, I think it is going to be a very exciting place to work.”
The ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign drew 1,040 supporting groups and individuals including Saras, each of whom had a brick inscribed with their name and displayed on a wall in the @Kini compound.
'Standing for something great'
For Malaysiakini supporter Gary Kang, his contribution of RM1,000 to support the online portal came naturally, he said.
“I think Malaysiakini stands for something great in Malaysia… I hope it will representing something, like the freedom of speech and human rights.
“We are not supposed to live under a shell. Now it is a globalised world and each of us have our freedom of thinking,” the architect said.
Meanwhile, diabetes specialist Dr Yap Piang Kian said he supported Malaysiakini to “do my bit of the country”.
“The Internet, like in Malaysiakini , is a great leveller. Without the Internet all the news will be biased - not only in Malaysia but also in other countries,” he said after being shown to his brick.
As for Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, she said the larger space at @Kini would help the publication do more and provide more fair news, especially for NGOs and the people.
“I admire the fighting spirit at Malaysiakini . From zero to now, it has become recognised and important,” she added.
With the snip of ribbons releasing balloons in the sky, Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran and editor-in-chief Steven Gan launched @Kini at 7.30pm.
Before the orange and white balloons disappear from view, sparklers were lit, and a lion dance started outside the building.
As soon at the lion dances ended, fireworks were launched into the sky and dinner is served for some 1,000 guests.
They were treated to performance by the band Magnifico, with renditions of songs like ‘With or Without You’, ‘Every Breath You Take’, ‘Happy’, and ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’.
Hoping to provide more than just news
In a speech, Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran said the online news portal hopes to provide more than just news, but also other forms to media where it can “focus our vision of democracy, social justice, and freedom of expression”.
“For the first 15 years has been about Internet and news, but with @Kini, we are going to go far beyond that. I think we are going to be able to do it,” he said.
He then proceeded to call members of Malaysiakini ’s administrative team and suppliers for the @Kini building and furniture suppliers, and architect Ambrose Poh onstage to introduce and thank them.
Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven also did likewise with members of its editorial and KiniTV team.
He started his speech with the sound of a 56k dial-up modem, before beginning to speak about the political situation in 1999 when Malaysiakini began operations, and the challenges it faced, including cyber-attacks, police raids, arrests of its journalists, and being barred from attending press conferences.
“When all those attacks failed to break our resolve , they even resorted to black magic where red paint was splashed and a half-dead duck was left at our doorsteps.
“I am happy to say that the duck, like Malaysiakini , is still alive and well,” he said, stressing that the publication is here to stay to keep elected representatives accountable.
'Many challenges along the way'
Kampung Tunku state assemblyperson Lau Weng San, who said he was impressed with Malaysiakini ’s new building, commended the portal for its role in the community.
“Without sheer determination for independence in journalism, I don’t think Malaysiakini will be able to achieve this,” he said.
Advising Malaysiakini to continue to work harder, he cautioned that there will be many challenges along the way.
“It will be tougher, so Malaysiakini has to be mentally prepared.
“I hope the company will receive more sponsorship and advertisements so that workers will receive a higher salary and in turn, produce better work,” he added.
After comedian Douglas Lim’s skit, Magnifico continued to entertain guests with songs such as ‘Stand By Me’, ‘Rolling In the Deep’, ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘Kau Ilhamku’ and ‘Dancing Queen’.
At 10pm the band ended their performance with the song ‘Kung Fu Fighting’, afterwards thanking Malaysiakini for inviting them to perform.
Then Malaysiakini staff and supporters gathered in front of the new office for group pictures, thereby signalling the end of the event.