Today, on April Fools’ Day, Jahabar Sadiq was supposed to launch his new portal, The Malaysian Insight.
This was actually planned 12 months ago when The Malaysian Insider closed down.
In fact, all the staff of The Malaysian Insider were told to not seek employment elsewhere but just take a three-month holiday because by mid-2016 The Malaysian Insider would be up and running again.
The Malaysian Insider had cost the owners RM500,000 a month to run with no real income.
Malaysiakini costs the same while Free Malaysia Today costs about RM350,000 a month to operate.
All these portals depend on donors or financiers to stay alive because there is no ROI.
The Malaysian Insider swallowed RM6 million a year and after blowing RM13 million over two years, the owners decided to close it down.
That is what it normally costs to run a news portal and unless you have millions at your disposal you would not survive two years.
Running a news portal is a very expensive game and if you hope to make money from it then you are in the wrong business.
Jahabar thought in three months or by June 2016 he would be able to reactivate The Malaysian Insider and reemploy all the staff.
His plan was to do a MBO and buy over The Malaysian Insider for RM1 million.
The owners would then have to write off RM12 million.
But raising the RM1 million is not as easy as he thought.
No one is going to burn money on something that has no income, unless the source of your money is also free.
Basically it was going to be money down the drain.
The RM1 million to buy over The Malaysian Insider is just the start.
Then there is the RM6 million a year that the financiers have to fork out and the five-year commitment.
Basically whoever finances The Malaysian Insider would have to commit to no less than RM40 million, with expansion, salary increments, etc., included.
The only people who would be prepared to spend that amount of money would be those who need an online media ‘arm’ for political purposes.
The pro-government people already have their mainstream media.
So only the opposition needs something like The Malaysian Insider.
Anyway, Jahabar could not raise the money, not even the first RM1 million to buy over The Malaysian Insider.
So the takeover in June 2016 did not happen and the three months stretched to one year.
Meanwhile, while the three months leave for the ex-staff became 12 months, Jahabar talked to a couple of interested parties about either taking over The Malaysian Insider or start a new portal.
Jahabar’s financiers were not interested in taking over The Malaysian Insider because it carried too much baggage.
The Malaysian Insider had been implicated in publishing stolen information that was doctored before it was published.
According to Xavier Andre Justo who sold the stolen data to The Malaysian Insider, he did not doctor the documents.
He said he just sold the stolen documents and he does not know who doctored them.
Justo also claims he was never paid the US$2 million that he was promised.
Against that backdrop The Malaysian Insider would not be a viable proposition.
Jahabar’s financiers wanted a new portal that had no ‘history’.
Hence The Malaysian Insight.
But The Malaysian Insight is being marketed as the ‘revived’ The Malaysian Insider.
That was why Ho Kay Tat, the publisher of The Edge Media Group that owned The Malaysian Insider, asked Jahabar to declare who his financier was.
Ho is worried that The Malaysian Insight would be seen as The Malaysian Insider Version 2.
That would mean Ho and/or Tong Kooi Ong and/or The Edge Media Group would be suspected of being behind The Malaysian Insight and of being its financier.
What Ho is doing, even before The Malaysian Insight takes off, is he is trying to distance himself and his outfit from this new news portal.
Hence by asking Jahabar to be transparent and to declare his financier, Ho is saying that he and his group were not the financiers.
Ho is asking us to look elsewhere for Jahabar’s financier and not look at him, Tong or The Edge.
Actually, those in the business already know that DAP is behind The Malaysian Insight.
DAP has large reserves from the funding they received from Israel.
One of the reasons for this funding is to launch a media war against Umno and Barisan Nasional in the run-up to the next general election.
To Jahabar this is not about causes but merely about the money.
Just before The Malaysian Insider closed down, he tried to do a deal with Umno and, in late 2015, negotiated for Umno to buy over the portal for RM6 million.
If Umno had agreed, Jahabar would have paid The Edge Media Group RM1 million and would have made a profit of RM5 million.
Umno, however, was not interested because The Malaysian Insider was toxic.
Jahabar does not mind whether Umno or DAP buys over The Malaysian Insider or finances The Malaysian Insight.
As long as they can commit RM40 million for the next five years that is all that matters.
The news and reports can be slanted any way that the financiers want it slanted.
Since DAP is now the owner of The Malaysian Insight, then the news will be pro-DAP/pro-Pakatan Harapan and anti-Umno, anti-Barisan Nasional and anti-PAS, and maybe anti-Malay/anti-Islam as well. – Malaysia Today
Disclaimer – The opinions expressed above are strictly those of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of Malaysia Outlook.