Malaysia: Newspaper faces forcible shutdown after receiving funds from George Soros

Members led by Datuk Jamal Md Yunus arrived at the media office amid tight security in Jalan Tandang on Thursday.

Red Shirt
"Red Shirt" demonstrators gather for a rally to celebrate Malaysia Day Reuters

Around 50 members of Malaysia's pro-Malay Red Shirts movement gathered in front of news website Malaysiakini's office demanding an explanation over donations it allegedly received from US magnate George Soros' Open Society Foundations (OSF).

It was reported that the members, led by UMNO's Sungai Besar division chief Datuk Jamal Md Yunus, arrived at the media office amid tight security in Jalan Tandang on Thursday at around 3pm. Heavily equipped police and riot control forces were deployed to maintain peace and order.

The police, after receiving permission from the Malaysiakini authorities, allowed only 10 representatives of the group, including Jamal, to enter the premises to meet three of the editors of the portal at a café to discuss the matter.

According to Malay Mail, in the meeting, Jamal warned Malaysiakini and demanded an explanation about the allegations of receiving OSF funds by the next Saturday. He also threatened the organisation that he will hold a mass protest and "tear down" half of the building if the deadline is crossed.

Channel News Asia reported that Jamal told reporters that the co-founder Steven Gan of the portal allegedly told him that he has received funds from American financier OSF.

However, it is reported that the portal's Malay language desk editor Jimadie Shah Othman explained Jamal about their funding process.

"Our funding come from donors, subscribers, advertisements and yes, some did come from OSF...all these information are in our website," he said, reported Malay Mail.

After the meeting, Jamal expressed his dissatisfaction and said that the company has failed to explain about the alleged funding claims and said that he will organise another rally outside the office on Saturday.

"God willing, if I'm still alive, I will bring some 20,000 members from NGOs nationwide to protest here," he claimed, as reported.

Earlier, Soros was linked to Malaysiakini's investor the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) and one of Malaysiakini's donors, the Open Society Foundation and Jamal accuses the company of wrongdoing and demands its shutting down.

"Malaysiakini has poisioned people's minds," he said, according to Channel News Asia.

He added that their focus was not on the amount of money but on the portal's relationship with the currency speculator. However, according to reports, Malaysiakini has dismissed all allegation and said that "donor support does not contribute significantly to financing" the portal.

"At all times, Malaysiakini retains its independence, with Malaysiakini's editorial team given full freedom to report on local and international matters, in line with professional journalistic ethics," said the company's representatives.