Malaysiakini stands by reports on Zahid, gambling kingpin Phua

Fathi Aris Omar

(The Malaysian Insider) – Accused of pitting the police force against Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, online news portal Malaysiakini said it is ready to give full cooperation to police investigations over its reporting on Zahid’s letter to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation on gambling kingpin Paul Phua Wei Seng.

Its chief editor, Fathi Aris Omar, said the portal has yet to receive any calls from the authorities and they did not anticipate that investigations would be conducted soon.

“We have not been called up but I think it is all at an early stage. I don’t think they will call so soon.

“If we are called, we will give our full cooperation. If the police say our report is wrong, then show us. But we stand by our story and we have confidence in our source,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The portal had published a story which Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has described as “inaccurate”.

Khalid, according to national news agency Bernama, last night warned the portal against pitting the minister against the police force.

“I will not allow it (to continue). I intend to call in the Malaysiakini editor over this.

“The online news portal continues to raise the issue of the letter which Zahid sent to the FBI (on Phua) and prints inaccurate news. It’s important to report accurately,” said Khalid.

Malaysiakini recently reported that the police were unhappy with Zahid for writing the letter in support of Phua to clear him of links with the 14K triad.

The portal also quoted police sources that Phua was once held in Miri, Sarawak, on gambling charges in connection with the Euro Cup 2004.

The sources told the portal that Phua paid the fine and left the country and was subsequently denied entry into Malaysia during the 2008 World Cup.

Phua and his son Darren are currently standing trial in the United States for a multimillion-dollar betting scheme. They were alleged to have accepted wagers on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Fathi said the portal was not antagonising the authorities and Zahid. He said Malaysiakini was only a “messenger” doing its job to report news.

“We have to understand it is a subjective perception and I take it as something normal when reporters are not happy with their editors and vice versa.

“It is the same in the civil service that some are unhappy. It is just that we don’t know how many are unhappy.”