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The Malaysian Insight halts operations amid unpaid wages crisis

The Malaysian Insight (TMI), an online media outlet in Malaysia, halted its operations on Monday, reportedly grappling with financial difficulties in meeting employee wage payments.

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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: The Malaysian Insight (TMI), an online media outlet in Malaysia, halted operations on Monday (22 Jan) reportedly due to its financial struggles in meeting employee wage payments.

According to a report by Malaysiakini, the website did not publish any news stories on Monday. The last article in English was posted at midnight, and the Malay version stopped publishing at 7 am.

The Chinese version’s last publication was observed on Twitter at 7 pm.

Upon checking the website and its social media accounts, there has been no official statement from the outlet explaining the abrupt operational halt, leaving readers in uncertainty.

Citing anonymous sources within the company, the report mentioned that staff members were instructed to take “an indefinite leave” until the matter was resolved.

The report also highlighted that salaries at the company were overdue for several months, with the last full salary paid for services rendered in October and November of the previous year.

Each staff member reportedly received RM1,000 (approximately US$211) in December as part of the owed salary, leading to some employees leaving the company.

When contacted, TMI’s CEO and founder, Jahabar Sadiq, informed Malaysiakini that he is currently out of town and will review the claims.

This development follows two months of speculation that TMI would be taken over and merged with The Vibes.

Last year, reports indicated that the site was acquired by Datuk Vinod Sekhar of the Petra Group, which also owns TMI’s competitor, The Vibes.

TMI is the continuation of The Malaysian Insider, acquired by The Edge Media Group in 2014 and subsequently shut down in 2016 due to losses after being blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

A check on Mr Sadiq’s LinkedIn account reveals that he served as the CEO and editor for The Malaysian Insider from 2010 to March 2016.

Before this, he held the position of senior producer for Reuters in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

Southeast Asia’s news hub Coconuts ceased its operation

In December, readers witnessed the closure of another long-standing regional news website, The Coconuts.co, which officially ceased operations on 31 December.

At its peak, Coconuts maintained offices in major cities such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, and Yangon.

Byron Perry, the founder and chairman of the media outlet, attributed the decision to halt operations to the challenge of maintaining financial sustainability.

The closure of both Malaysian Insight and Coconuts.co exemplifies the hurdles faced by alternative media in the region in recent years, navigating competitive landscapes and a challenging economic environment.

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