KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 — Malaysiakini’s operator Mkini Dot Com Sdn Bhd has paid the RM500,000 fine imposed on the news portal — for being in contempt of court over its readers’ comments — a day ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.
In a brief video clip by the news outlet’s video outfit KiniTV, Malaysiakini’s CEO Premesh Chandran was seen today holding an Alliance Bank cheque for the amount of RM500,000 outside the Palace of Justice, before proceeding to a counter inside to pay the fine.
In the video, he was also seen holding a document dated February 23 and entitled Bil Rasmi for the sum of RM500,000.
When contacted by Malay Mail, Malaysiakini’s lawyer Surendra Ananth confirmed that the document titled Bil Rasmi is “proof of payment”, confirming that Malaysiakini had paid the fine.
Last Friday, the Federal Court imposed the RM500,000 fine on Malaysiakini to be paid by the end of the tomorrow, with the news outlet subsequently managing to raise more than RM500,000 through donations from the public within just hours of the sentencing.
Also in the KiniTV video today, Premesh said Malaysiakini was initially shocked at the RM500,000 fine imposed, but went on to thank the news outlet’s readers and supporters for contributing to the funds.
“It’s very generous of our readers and supporters especially during the time of the pandemic where people are having a tough time out there and have many concerns. Many people have lost their jobs, so we are very, very touched.
“And we will always remember our readers’ support and make sure that we continue to do our mission to report the news fairly, accurately and in a balanced way and hold the powers that be accountable. So this gives us inspiration to work harder to do our job, to report independently for our readers and supporters,” he said.
Even though Malaysiakini had suspended the donation campaign on Friday after achieving the targeted amount of RM500,000, donations continued to pour in, with the final amount collected as of today being RM749,371 from a total of 6,961 donors.
Out of the nearly RM750,000 sum, RM500,000 has been used today to pay the fine.
"Well, we have about RM250,000 in excess. We are looking at what we should do with it.
"I think the donors gave it to support a free media and to defend the media so we will look at maybe how we can further that aim to make sure that we have a free media and the media can have a defence when there are legal situations like these.
“So we are looking at options and we will definitely inform our readers very soon as to what we are going to do with the balance,” he said in the same video clip.
Premesh also said in the video clip that Malaysiakini would seek to pursue ‘changes’ moving forward.
“We will continue with this case, we are talking with our lawyers about what we can do next. We feel that the law needs to be looked at, so that publishers can feel secure to publish their content and have readers engage in a responsible way without us getting into this sort of situations. We will be talking to our lawyers and lawmakers to see what changes can happen going forward,” he said.
For an explanation of the Federal Court’s majority decision by six judges and minority decision by a dissenting judge and how Malaysiakini came to be fined RM500,000, a simplified summary of the contempt case can be read here.
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