Malaysiakini is a political news website published in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Since its launch on November 20, 1999, it has been widely considered to be one of the leading non-government owned paid-news agencies in Malaysia. Compete.com estimates that Malaysiakini attracts over 170,000 visitors in 2008. Alexa ranked malaysiakini.com as the 16th most popular web site in Malaysia (ahead of Star) in 2008.
Unlike most news sources in Malaysia, Malaysiakini remains free from government regulation and thus widely considered to be the country's only credible, independent voice. Malaysiakini has gained both praise and notoriety by regularly covering subjects and viewpoints deemed taboo by the mainstream broadcast and print media; the fact that it is still allowed to operate is partly due to the Malaysian government's tolerance regarding internet censorship. The Malaysian government had pledged there would be no control and censorship of Internet content in line with efforts to create the Multimedia Super Corridor.
The Malaysiakini website is updated daily, except for certain public holidays. Its news coverage concentrates mainly on local events, with a strong emphasis on items related to Malaysian politics. Malaysiakini also publishes columns, blogs and features that offer diverse viewpoints, both on local and international issues. Malaysiakini claims to practice an editorial policy that is consistently supportive of justice, human rights, democracy, freedom of speech and good governance.
Malaysiakini publishes its readers' opinions in its letters section. The letters section has generated active participation from readers of all races and religions and of various ideological backgrounds, creating an open arena of public debate unseen in Malaysia since the 1960s. Among other common topics are taboo subjects such as migrant workers, AIDS, Islam and racial quota systems. Malaysiakini claims to avoid exercising excessive editorial control on the letters section, as it attempts to foster a spirit of reasoned discussion.
However, the most serious incident occurred on January 20th, 2003 when Malaysiakini was raided by the Malaysian police. Four servers and 15 central processing units from its office worth RM150,000 (US$39,500) were seized during the raid. The police raid was instigated after the right-wing cadres in UMNO Youth, an arm of the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO), complained that a letter written by "Petrof", a reader, and published on Malaysiakini's website was seditious. In its police report, UMNO Youth claimed that the letter had questioned the special rights and privileges of the Bumiputras that are enshrined in the Constitution. Additionally, UMNO Youth claimed that the letter also contained false allegations that the Malaysian government was unfair to other ethnic races in the country. The seizure of the hardware temporarily silenced Malaysiakini, though it was eventually resumed normal operation.
On April 1, 2005 Malaysiakini published a fake news report alleging that four unnamed senior government officials were being charged for corruption. The report turned out to be an April Fool's joke, albeit published with the intention of casting the spotlight on official corruption, a problem still rife in Malaysia. This caused quite a stir in Malaysia with the government ordering a probe on the news organization.