- Title: Malaysia's 'Red Shirts' protest against media group over funding claims
- Date: 5th November 2016
- Summary: KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA (NOVEMBER 5, 2016) (REUTERS) POLICE STANDING GUARD OUTSIDE MALAYSIAKINI OFFICE VARIOUS OF POLICE STANDING GUARD ARMED RIOT POLICE STANDING POLICE STANDING GUARD CAMERAMAN FILMING PROTESTERS CHANTING OUTSIDE MALAYSIAKINI COMPOUND PROTEST LEADER GIVING SPEECH PROTESTERS LISTENING TO SPEECH CAMERAMEN FILMING PROTESTERS CHANTING PROTESTERS HOLDING UP PLACARDS READING (English) "FOR MY HOMELAND" AND "YOU INSULT OUR ULAMA (RELIGIOUS LEADER)" PROTESTERS HOLDING UP BANNER READING (English) "MARIA CHIN AND BERSIH 5 ARE PUPPETS OF SOROS AND DAP (DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY) CHINESE" PROTESTER WEARING FACEMASK PROTESTERS MARCHING TOWARDS MALAYSIAKINI OFFICE PROTESTERS MARCHING PROTESTERS TRYING TO PUSH PAST BARRICADE IN FRONT OF MALAYSIAKINI OFFICE POLICE HOLDING BACK BARRICADE AGAINST PROTESTERS VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS STANDING PROTEST LEADERS TALKING TO POLICE POLICE HOLDING BACK BARRICADE AGAINST PROTESTERS POLICE STANDING AT BARRICADE EXTERIOR OF MALAYSIAKINI BUILDING SIGNAGE READING (English) "MALAYSIAKINI, NEWS AND VIEWS THAT MATTER" REPORTER ASKING QUESTION (SOUNDBITE) (English) MALAYSIAKINI EDITOR-IN-CHIEF STEVEN GAN SAYING: "The editors who work in Malaysiakini really you know even I find it very hard to control the editorial policy of Malaysiakini. We do have our daily meetings and it is open to all Malaysiakini journalists and editors. They decide exactly what to report on and what to follow up on. I'm just one voice among the 30 or 40-odd individuals in Malaysiakini." GAN LISTENING TO REPORTER QUESTION (SOUNDBITE) (English) MALAYSIAKINI EDITOR-IN-CHIEF STEVEN GAN SAYING: "I don't think there's any law that would enable the government to shut us down. So Jamal (Red shirt leader, Jamal Yunos) can make whatever remarks that he wants to make, but it doesn't look like he's responsible for the remarks that he made, so you just have to take it with a pinch of salt." CAMERAMEN FILMING END OF NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 20th November 2016 10:55
- Keywords: Malaysia politics protests rally George Soros Malaysiakini
- Location: KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
- City: KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
- Country: Malaysia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015762C79
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Several hundred pro-government demonstrators protested outside the office of a media group on Saturday (November 5), calling for it to be shut down after reports that it received funds from an organisation linked to business tycoon George Soros.
The largely Malay group, which calls itself "Red Shirts", has alleged that foreign funds received by the popular news portal, Malaysiakini, was to be used to influence the next general election with an aim to topple Prime Minister Najib Razak's government.
The protest is expected to be dwarfed by a massive rally planned by democracy group Bersih on Nov. 19, which will call for the resignation of Najib over corruption allegations.
Dressed in red shirts, the demonstrators were chanting "close down, close down! close down Malaysiakini!".
Over a hundred riot police officers were stationed in and around the Malaysiakini offices.
The controversy erupted after whistleblower site DC leaks revealed documents that allegedly showed Open Society Foundations (OSF), founded by Soros, was funding local organisations to influence the outcome of the next general election that is due to be called by 2018.
Malaysiakini and other organisations such as Bersih were linked to funds from OSF. Malaysiakini has said the funds from OSF were only used to produce more stories on Sarawak, and constituted a small portion of its revenue.
Editor-in-chief Steven Gan told a news conference after the protesters dispersed that none of its shareholders or funders had any influence over editorial policy.
"The editors who work in Malaysiakini really you know even I find it very hard to control the editorial policy of Malaysiakini. We do have our daily meetings and it is open to all Malaysiakini journalists and editors. They decide exactly what to report on and what to follow up on. I'm just one voice among the 30 or 40-odd individuals in Malaysiakini," he said.
"I don't think there's any law that would enable the government to shut us down. So Jamal (Red shirt leader, Jamal Yunos) can make whatever remarks that he wants to make, but it doesn't look like he's responsible for the remarks that he made, so you just have to take it with a pinch of salt," Gan added.
The Red Shirts leader Jamal Yunos had earlier vowed to "tear down" the offices of Malaysiakini by gathering more than 20,000 protesters.
"The threats against Malaysiakini are the latest instance of the right to freedom of expression coming under attack in the country," Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday.
Najib's administration has cracked down on the media and civil society in an attempt to silence criticism over his involvement in a money-laundering scandal at state fund 1MDB.
In July, U.S. prosecutors filed civil lawsuits alleging that 1MDB had been defrauded of more than $3.5 billion.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said Malaysia would cooperate with all international investigations.
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