Jahabar Sadiq and the mystery of his funder

Jahabar wanted to buy over The Malaysian Insider when it closed down and had hoped to be up and running within three months or by June 2016. However, he could not raise the money and it took a year before he could get a financier to commit to the RM40 million required to fund a news portal for at least five years. The question is, who is that financier who has pledged the RM40 million that Jahabar needs?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Today, on April Fools’ Day, Jahabar Sadiq was supposed to launch his new portal, The Malaysian Insight. This was actually planned 12 months ago when The Malaysian Insider closed down. In fact, all the staff of The Malaysian Insider were told to not seek employment elsewhere but just take a three-month holiday because by mid-2016 The Malaysian Insider would be up and running again.

The Malaysian Insider had cost the owners RM500,000 a month to run with no real income. Malaysiakini costs the same while Free Malaysia Today costs about RM350,000 a month to operate. And all these portals depend on donors or financiers to stay alive because there is no ROI.

The Malaysian Insider swallowed RM6 million a year and after blowing RM13 million over two years the owners decided to close it down. That is what it normally costs to run a news portal and unless you have millions at your disposal you would not survive two years. Running a news portal is a very expensive game and if you hope to make money from it then you are in the wrong business.

Jahabar first tried to sell The Malaysian Insider to Umno for RM6 million in late 2015 and when that failed he had to close down the portal when the money ran out

Jahabar thought in three months or by June 2016 he would be able to reactivate The Malaysian Insider and reemploy all the staff. His plan was to do a MBO and buy over The Malaysian Insider for RM1 million. The owners would then have to write off RM12 million. But raising the RM1 million is not as easy as he thought. No one is going to burn money on something that has no income, unless the source of your money is also free. Basically it was going to be money down the drain.

And the RM1 million to buy over The Malaysian Insider is just the start. Then there is the RM6 million a year that the financiers have to fork out and the five-year commitment. Basically whoever finances The Malaysian Insider would have to commit to no less than RM40 million, with expansion, salary increments, etc., included.

Tong, the billionaire who blew RM13 million on The Malaysian Insider before he closed it down

The only people who would be prepared to spend that amount of money would be those who need an online media ‘arm’ for political purposes. And the pro-government people already have their mainstream media. So only the opposition needs something like The Malaysian Insider.

Anyway, Jahabar could not raise the money, not even the first RM1 million to buy over The Malaysian Insider. So the takeover in June 2016 did not happen and the three months stretched to one year. Meanwhile, while the three months leave for the ex-staff became 12 months, Jahabar talked to a couple of interested parties about either taking over The Malaysian Insider or start a new portal.

Justo said Sarawak Report brokered the sale of the stolen data to Ho and Tong for US$2 million but he was never paid and that they doctored the documents

Jahabar’s financiers were not interested in taking over The Malaysian Insider because it carried too much baggage. The Malaysian Insider had been implicated in publishing stolen information that was doctored before it was published. According to Xavier Andre Justo who sold the stolen data to The Malaysian Insider, he did not doctor the documents. He said he just sold the stolen documents and he does not know who doctored them. Justo also claims he was never paid the US$2 million that he was promised.

READ HERE: I was offered $2.7m for stolen data: Ex-PetroSaudi employee Xavier Andre Justo

Against that backdrop The Malaysian Insider would not be a viable proposition. Jahabar’s financiers wanted a new portal that had no ‘history’. Hence The Malaysian Insight. But The Malaysian Insight is being marketed as the ‘revived’ The Malaysian Insider. And that was why Ho Kay Tat, the publisher of The Edge Media Group that owned The Malaysian Insider, asked Jahabar to declare who his financier is (SEE NEWS ITEMS BELOW).

Lim Kit Siang celebrating the birth of DAP’s new baby

Ho is worried that The Malaysian Insight would be seen as The Malaysian Insider Version 2. And that would mean Ho and/or Tong Kooi Ong and/or The Edge Media Group would be suspected of being behind The Malaysian Insight and of being its financier. What Ho is doing, even before The Malaysian Insight takes off, is he is trying to distance himself and his outfit from this new news portal. Hence by asking Jahabar to be transparent and to declare his financier, Ho is saying that he and his group are not the financiers.

Ho is asking us to look elsewhere for Jahabar’s financier and not look at him, Tong or The Edge. Actually, those in the business already know that DAP is behind The Malaysian Insight. DAP has large reserves from the funding they received from Israel. And one of the reasons for this funding is to launch a media war against Umno and Barisan Nasional in the run-up to the next general election.

READ HERE: DAP offered RM1.2 billion to win GE13, build Israeli military camp as reward, claims PAS research director

To Jahabar this is not about causes but merely about the money. Just before The Malaysian Insider closed down he tried to do a deal with Umno and, in late 2015, negotiated for Umno to buy over the portal for RM6 million. If Umno had agreed, Jahabar would have paid The Edge Media Group RM1 million and he would have made a profit of RM5 million. Umno, however, was not interested because The Malaysian Insider was toxic.

Jahabar does not mind whether Umno or DAP buys over The Malaysian Insider or finances The Malaysian Insight. As long as they can commit RM40 million for the next five years that is all that matters. The news and reports can be slanted any way that the financiers want it slanted. And since DAP is now the owner of The Malaysian Insight, then the news will be pro-DAP/pro-Pakatan Harapan and anti-Umno, anti-Barisan Nasional and anti-PAS, and maybe anti-Malay/anti-Islam as well.

Ho is worried that The Malaysian Insight might be mistaken for The Malaysian Insider Version 2


Come clean on funders, The Edge boss tells new portal

(Malay Mail Online, 21 Mar 2017) – Jahabar Sadiq, the former editor of defunct news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI), has been challenged by his former financiers today to reveal the source of funds for his new outfit The Malaysian Insight.

Ho Kay Tat, the publisher of The Edge Media Group that owned TMI before shutting it down in March last year, said the revelation is needed for the sake of transparency and public interest.

“I hope Mr Jahabar has now found better financiers than us for The Malaysian Insight. He has said that his financial sources are private equity, businessmen and loans.”

“For transparency and in the public interest, Mr Jahabar should provide their names and not let the matter be shrouded in mystery,” Ho said in a letter to Singapore’s daily The Straits Times.

Ho also denied that his company had closed TMI ‘on the first sight of trouble’, explaining that the site was costing it RM500,000 a month and was no longer sustainable.

“This is a big sum of money for a small privately funded media group that is not backed by political parties or a large corporate organisation,” Ho said.

Last week, Jahabar said the portal will go online sometime this month “as a free site before introducing a paywall sometime down the line.”

He refused, however, to disclose the source of his funding.

“It has taken me 10 months to convince some private equity and businessmen to give me a loan of sorts to do this,” Jahabar was quoted as saying in the report.

Last year, The Edge Media Group decided to terminate TMI, some eight years after the news portal was started in 2008.

Jahabar had said The Edge Media Group’s decision to close the news portal was made for commercial reasons.

Putrajaya had previously blocked access to TMI, with Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak alleging that the news portal had caused public ‘confusion’ in an article quoting an unnamed source from a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission advisory panel.


Reveal source of funding, soon-to-be-launched news portal told

(The Star, 21 Mar 2017) – The Malaysian Insight, headed by co-founder of the defunct The Malaysian Insider Jahabar Sadiq, has been urged to reveal the source of the portal’s funding.

“For transparency and in the public interest, Mr Jahabar should provide their names and not let the matter be shrouded in mystery,” The Edge Media Group (TEMG) chief executive officer and publisher Ho Kay Tat said in a comment published by Singapore’s The Straits Times.

Ho said Jahabar had previously revealed that The Malaysian Insight – which was slated to start operations by the end of March – was funded by private equity, businessmen and loans.

In his comment, Ho also refuted Jahabar’s claims that The Malaysian Insider was shut down ‘on the first sight of trouble’.

“We had lost RM13 million since we bought it in June 2014 from Mr Jahabar and his co-founders.”

“With no possibility of a turnaround, and with the site blocked, we had no choice but to cease its operations,” he said.

TEMG closed The Malaysian Insider in March 2016 after the news portal was blocked by the authorities over a series of articles on 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB).

Ho explained that TEMG had run into problems over its 1MDB exposés which resulted in a three-month suspension in July 2015.

“We challenged the suspension in court, won and resumed publishing after nine weeks. We did not run away,” he said.

Ho claimed that the suspension caused losses amounting to several million ringgit from its two profitable assets.

He added that despite the suspension, staff salaries were still paid in full even though its cash reserves were depleted to a ‘level that meant we could not sustain the operations of The Malaysian Insider’, which cost RM500,000 a month.

“This is a big sum of money for a small privately funded media group that is not backed by political parties or a large corporate organisation,” he said.