KUALA LUMPUR: More questions have been raised over foreign funding of Malaysian organisations, with one blogger saying ambiguity regarding the finances of a local news portal will do little to quell suspicions about where it gets its money.
In a post today in the blog Freedom Come Freedom Go, Freddie Kevin highlighted a news report on journalist YL Chong’s claims that the operators of news portal Malaysiakini are less transparent, accountable and independent than they claim to be.
The article quoted Chong as saying, “I never received in black-and-white how much shares I owned. And until today, Malaysiakini has never revealed the value of its shares.”
The blogger also highlighted a report that Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran had admitted that the portal receives foreign funding.
Freddie pointed out that Malaysiakini is run by a for-profit company and is not an NGO— which, the blogger says, raises questions over Premesh’s claim that the portal’s foreign funding consists of “grants, for various projects promoting press freedom and NOT funds to finance the company, Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd”.
“To clear all doubts as to its tranparency, credibility, impartiality and of hidden agendas, Premesh should rise to Chong’s challenge to furnish a detailed financial account of the company,” the blogger said.
“Failing to do so will only serve to confirm various allegations levelled at Malaysiakini, like those of YL Chong, for what it’s worth,” he added.
Freddie had previously called Malaysiakini’s transparency and editorial independence into question by highlighting the partial ownership of the portal by a fund founded by international currency speculator George Soros.
Malaysiakini is just one of several organisations whose foreign funding has come under scrutiny recently.
Human rights organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has been the subject of criticism from certain quarters – and is currently being investigated by several government agencies — over its funding, which includes money from National Endowment for Democracy, a US-based NGO.
Suaram is also alleged to have ties to George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
Earlier this year, questions about the funding of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) arose in the wake of protest rallies organised by the coalition.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been a vocal critic of the activities of foreign NGOs in Malaysia, accusing the US and other Western governments of using them as tools of regime change.