27 October – In 2001, political party Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) bought a controlling stake in Nanyang Press Holdings, which publishes two major Chinese-language newspapers. The deal almost split the party and outraged Malaysians of Chinese descent who feared political interference in the relatively independent and feisty Chinese press. Five years later, the controversial purchase is back in the limelight as the MCA recently sold almost half of its stake to local tycoon Tiong Hiew King, who owns rival publisher Sin Chew Media Corporation. Tiong now has a stake of close to 45% in the four top Chinese-language dailies in the country, confirming earlier fears of a political-business alliance to control the Chinese press.
In response, a 19 October 2006 petition signed by 47 diverse civil society groups and opposition political parties is demanding for a review of the laws to ensure media independence and plurality. The petition was initiated by the Writers Alliance for Media Independence, the Civil Rights Committee and Youth Section of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and the Centre for Independent Journalism. Read SEAPA’s full alert and Reporters Without Borders’ release which gives a brief overview of who owns the media in Malaysia.