PETALING JAYA – Pro-government Red Shirt supporters were gathered in force outside Malaysiakini’s office off Jalan Tandang on Saturday (Nov 5), demanding closure of the Malaysian news website over reports alleging that the company received funding from foreign donors seeking to topple the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Around 300 of the Red Shirts carrying posters were massed around 100 metres from the building, with a heavy police presence in the area, including riot police. At around 3.50pm, they marched up to a barricade set up in front of the building before being stopped by the police personnel.
Representatives of the organisation negotiated with the police to proceed, but were not allowed to pass through. When it became clear that they would not be able to approach the building any closer, the protesters moved away from the blockade and began to disperse at around 4.10pm.
“We asked to be allowed to enter the gates of Malaysiakini, but we understand the responsibility of the police, so we moved away,” said Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos, the leader of the Red Shirts.
Before the march began, Datuk Seri Jamal said, “If we have to chase them (Malaysiakini) off, we will chase them off. If we have to close them down, we will close them down.”
He added that if electoral reform group Bersih insisted on going ahead with a November 19 rally, “then if they are stubborn, we will be ten times as stubborn.”
Datuk Seri Jamal says that the news website receives funding from the Open Society Foundations (OSF) founded by American hedge fund billionaire George Soros.
Mr Jamal has alleged that Mr Soros is “the one behind the problems in many countries in the region including Malaysia during the Asian financial crisis. Now he is back to stir trouble because he knows the election must be held by 2018.”
He also claims that Bersih also receives funding from the OSF.
Mr Jamal, who is also Umno’s Sungai Besar division chief, had earlier threatened that 20,000 Red Shirts would descend on Malaysiakini if it did not shut down and that “a part of this building will fall”.
On Thursday, Mr Jamal and a small group of Red Shirts held a meeting with Malaysiakini’s management to confirm whether the allegations were true. But while Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran and Editor-in-Chief Steven Gan have acknowledged that the company had received OSF funding in the past, they denied that it was provided with the aim of toppling the government.