Malay Mail off the streets from tomorrow until January 2012

(The Malaysian Insider) – KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Tabloid The Malay Mail will see its last print edition today and return as a morning national newspaper in January 2012 under an ambitious renewal to include possible content from the South China Morning Post and the Malaysiakini news portal.

However, the currently free afternoon tabloid will still be available online until it is relaunched on January 3 for RM1 a copy, sources said.

The Malaysian Insider understands the tabloid’s main shareholders, the Redberry Media group, have also taken a multi-million ringgit loan for its expansion, including opening up offices across the peninsula.

Several reporters have left the tabloid in recent months despite the entry of The Sun’s Terence Fernandez who joined as executive editor.

It is understood that he now runs the tabloid as recently-promoted editor-in-chief Yushaimi Yahya has been moved to an advisory role ahead of the relaunch.

The tabloid’s move to get content from Malaysiakini has also appeared to hit a bump as the Home Ministry called in the editors for an explanation after The Malaysian Insider reported the possible deal last month.

Sources said The Malay Mail was told that it cannot take unverified content from news portals and Home Ministry officials were also perturbed that it could be a way for Malaysiakini to find its way into print editions despite not having a printing permit.

Malaysiakini, which began in 1999, has been interested in the print media for some time and is suing the Home Ministry for a publishing permit.

The Malay Mail, which began on December 14, 1896, used to be part of the New Straits Times Press group before it was sold off to Redberry Media group, a subsidiary of listed Ancom Berhad spearheaded by Datuk Siew Ka Wei.

Redberry is controlled by Siew and his partner Mohamad Al-Amin Abdul Majid, who is known to be a confidant of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The remaining shares in The Malay Mail are held by businessman Ibrahim Mohamad Nor who had originally bought the newspaper from the New Straits Times Press.

It became a free afternoon newspaper in May 2008.