PREMESH CHANDRAN & STEVEN GAN

COUNTRY

Malaysia

ORGANIZATION

Malaysiakini

CAUSE

Media Freedom

With some 35 laws restricting freedom of speech, one may hold little hope for the survival of objective and independent journalism in Malaysia. Malaysiakini, an online news portal that was created through a “Super Corridor” loophole, proves otherwise.

Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran, the website’s co-founders, were first inspired, while studying in Australia, by the democratic movement in Asia. After surviving their baptism by fire as journalists in Malaysia’s mainstream media where they had to deal with their editors’ self-censorship and bullying by the authorities, they went on to push through their own brand of fiery independent journalism despite reprisals and financial fluctuations.

Malaysiakini has survived for over a decade. It now thrives as one of the country’s top local websites and is financially sustainable. Its success lies with more than just launching at the right time and right place; it has the right formula of delivering content that the public craves, employing a canny mix of technology and bold journalism, and a revenue model of paid subscriptions. It is a testimony that idealism can be a profitable endeavor.

BRIEF FACTS


PREMESH CHANDRAN & STEVEN GAN

1962

Steven Gan born to Chinese parents in Bentong, Malaysia

1969

Premesh Chandran born to Tamil father and Bengali mother in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

1982

Gan started studies at University of New South Wales and graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor’s degree majoring in economics and politics at La Trobe University

1988

Chandran started studies at University of New South Wales and graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics

1989

Chandran and Gan met on campus through their involvement with the Network of Overseas Student Collectives in Australia

1990

Gan went to Hong Kong and freelanced as a journalist

1992

Chandran returned to Malaysia and became a lecturer in Physics at the Matriculation Program of the University of Malaya

1994

Gan returned to Malaysia. Both Gan and then Chandran joined the newly launched newspaper, the Sun

1996

Gan resigned from the Sun in protest and went to work as a journalist for the Nation in Bangkok. Chandran graduated with a Masters degree in International Studies from University of Sydney

1997

Chandran returned to Malaysia and worked at Malaysian Trade Union Congress

1999

Chandran and Gan started Malaysiakini with five staff

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION


MALAYSIAKINI

2000

The Edge’s 50 Movers and Shakers of the New Economy

Reporters San Frontiers’ Press Freedom Award

2001

Asiaweek’s 50 Most Powerful Communicators

International Press Institute’s Free Media Pioneer Award

2010

Putra Brand Award (Bronze Winner)

 

PREMESH CHANDRAN

2010

TED Fellow
Asia Foundation’s Chang-Lin Tien Fellow

2012

Malaysia Kancil Awards’ Media Personality Award

 

STEVEN GAN

2000

Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award

2010

Malaysia Kancil Awards’ Media Personality Award

2011

Businessweek’s 50 Stars of Asia