Veteran newsman accuses Malaysiakini of being insincere

(The Star) – Veteran journalist Y.L. Chong has challenged Malaysiakini to reveal its annual financial report.

He said that while the portal operators claim to promote transparency, accountability and media independence, they neither announced the value of shares nor declared dividends.

He was responding to comments by Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran that co-founders and staff of the news portal owned 70% of the shares.

Chong quit Malaysiakini 11 years ago following the top manage-ment’s refusal to publicly declare its links to currency speculator George Soros.

The issue surfaced again recently following reports that Malaysiakini and Suaram were among several anti-establishment organisations that allegedly received foreign funding.

The two main contributors are the American-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Soros-linked Open Society Institute (OSI), which had been financing groups supporting its interests and objectives around the world.

Chong questioned if Malaysiakini revealed its annual financial statements to its staff.

“When I was serving as news editor, I was verbally told during top management meetings that I am also a shareholder.

“But I never received in black-and-white how much shares I owned.

“And until today, Malaysiakini has never revealed the value of its shares,” he said.

Chong said as the news editor, he was privy to information raised at Malaysiakini’s meetings.

“I learned that Malaysiakini had then received 10% downpayment of RM188,000 from MDLF (Media Development Loan Fund) for a 10% interest in Malaysiakini,” he said.

“I want Premesh to declare how much is the 70% shares owned by Malaysiakini co-founders and staff worth now,” he said.

In an immediate reaction, Premesh said Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd owned Malaysiakini and the company files its annual returns yearly with CCM (Companies Commission of Malaysia).

“This includes all details of shareholders. The par value of the shares is RM1,” he said, adding that all staff who owned shares had been issued share certificates.

However, he said, they had not issued any dividends to shareholders.