Lack of funds forced Malaysian Insider to be shut

The Edge Media Group (TEMG) believes in media diversity, and I was happy to read that my former colleague Jahabar Sadiq has found financiers to enable him to start a news portal to replace The Malaysian Insider (TMI), which he co-founded in 2007 and ran as chief executive officer and editor-in-chief (Comeback bid by Malaysian news site that was shut down; March 16).

TEMG closed TMI in March last year, shortly after the site was blocked by the Malaysian authorities over an article on 1MDB.

It is still blocked today. We had lost RM13 million (S$4 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.

I disagree with the assertion made by Mr Jahabar that we closed TMI "on the first sight of trouble".

TEMG also ran into problems with the authorities over our exposes on the dealings of 1MDB in two print publications, which were suspended in July 2015 for three months.

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

But the suspension lost us several million ringgit in revenue for our two profitable assets.

As we paid the salaries of our staff in full during the nine weeks, our cash was depleted to a level that meant we could not sustain the operations of TMI, which was costing us 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.

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 Kay Tat

The Edge Media Group
Kuala Lumpur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'Lack of funds forced Malaysian Insider to be shut'. Print Edition | Subscribe