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Malaysiakini editors explain OSF grant to Jamal over coffee
Published:  Nov 3, 2016 6:52 AM
Updated: Nov 4, 2016 8:42 AM

Some 100 red-shirt protesters led by their leader Jamal Md Yunos gathered outside the Malaysiakini office demanding an explanation over the grant the news portal received from Open Society Foundations (OSF), which is linked to American billionaire George Soros.

The group chanted "Merah, Merah" (Red, Red) and "Hancur Soros" (Destroy Soros) while a team of police personnel, including the light strike force, maintained security.

Asking for some "coffee and goreng pisang (banana fritters)", Jamal pointed out how his group did not number 1,000 people.

"We're not here to riot, we just want to meet with all of you," he added.

Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan and two other senior editors - chief editor RK Anand and Bahasa Malaysia editor Jimadie Shah Othman - then invited Jamal and 10 other red-shirt leaders to coffee at the office cafeteria to discuss the matter.

During the discussion, Jamal emphasised it was a peaceful gathering, but threatened to hold a bigger rally on Saturday and "runtuh" (tear down) a portion of the building if the news portal did not explain the grant issue by then.

"If no explanation is given, we NGOs from across the country will hold a mega protest here, of at least 20,000 people.

"We will make sure part of this building will runtuh (tear down)," said the Sungai Besar Umno division chief.

Asked by Gan whether he meant physically "destroying" the building, Jamal replied: "I don't know, I don't know runtuh macam mana (how it will topple). I did not say destroy, you said it."

The editors then pointed out Malaysiakini had already provided a detailed explanation on the matter, which is available on the website, while its finances are audited annually and available for scrutiny at the Companies Commission.

It was also reiterated that the OSF grant was used for KiniTV to produce news reports related to Sarawak and that the rest of Malaysiakini's operation is fully funded through its income from subscriptions and advertising.

Portal provides alternative views

The editors also denied Jamal's assertion that Malaysiakini was driven by an agenda to destroy democracy, and explained to him that the news portal provides alternative views, which are part and parcel of the democratic process.

Apart from this, the editors also noted that providing space for differences of opinions was also an important facet of a democratic nation and did not amount to wanting to destroy the country or topple the government.

Jamal also claimed that the top positions in Malaysiakini were held by opposition members, but Gan explained this was not the case.

After hearing the explanation, Jamal played a video clip on his mobile phone which contained a slew of allegations against Soros.

Following the 20-minute discussion, the red-shirts leader thanked the editors for inviting him and the rest for a civil discussion.

Speaking to the media later, Jamal said what was important is that Malaysiakini admitted to receiving funds from OSF, regardless of the quantum.

"That’s what we want to hear, not how much money it received, but the extent of its relations with the 'penyangak' (crook)," he said in reference to Soros.

In light of the forthcoming general election, OFS, he claimed, was providing funds to its "agents" such as electoral reform movement Bersih as well as to Malaysiakini.

Meanwhile, on the gathering that was originally planned to be held at the Sultan Sulaiman Club, Jamal said due to the absence of a place to gather, the red-shirts had unanimously agreed to turn the gathering into a demonstration.

"To protest against Malaysiakini, and against Bersih, which are masterminded by foreign powers," he said.

Asked if he still intended to proceed with the Saturday gathering outside the Malaysiakini office, he replied: "We will see, in the next one or two days, what they (Malaysiakini) will prove."

Urging the government to close down Malaysiakini, Jamal also wanted action to be taken against others who have dealings with Soros.

Gan, on the other hand, thanked the police for their cooperation in maintaining security.


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