Merdeka Review, a Chinese online independent media portal founded in 2005 in Malaysia, was officially closed down in August 31, 2012. Due to the withdrawal of the support of a major funder, the news organization had been under financial stress since 2011.
Public support had managed to help the news website to keep operating until recently; the website is still accessible [zh] to the public.
Its closing statement said [zh]:
Merdeka Review will continue to keep the website online so that the public and researchers can read and research on the news for free. The spirit of an open public space is what we have been upholding. We would like to express our thanks to the data center for one year's free hosting service.
The reason for our shut down is partly related to the lack of social infrastructure to support a dissenting news website even though people have developed a much higher expectation on “news” because of higher levels of education when compared with the older generation. In a comparatively authoritarian society, the relationship between online media and democratization is closely related. Better development and sustainability of online media would help the political reform.We hope such conditions will appear soon. It really depends on public support. On the other hand, we could not rely on the market totally as it would risk the news organization's independent position. Will a public policy help to enhance better conditions for the survival of dissenting news websites? We need to put our thoughts together and advocate for democracy so that decision makers listen to our suggestions.
Merdeka Review is one of the prominent alternative media in Malaysia. It is very courageous in reporting news that mainstream media in Malaysia do not have the will or the courage to cover. This gives more voices to the community. Moreover, Merdeka Review has been covering the condition of various marginalised groups in Malaysia all these years and gives readers an opportunity to listen to their voice. Therefore, Merdeka Review's contribution is great.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of financial support, Merdeka Review has ceased operations today. No matter how sad and disappointed the readers are, we have no choice but to accept the fact.
We can only hope that one day Merdeka Review will be able to revive and continue contributing to press freedom in Malaysia. May the spirit of Merdeka Review lives on!
Merdeka has inspired many Chinese young people to participate in social and political action. Ah Lye, anactivist in Malaysia writes [zh] in his Facebook on the significance of independent media:
29 岁到 36 岁，七年里，这个国家经历了很多，我也对这个土地，有了不一样的认识，而你们，肯定在这个七年里，伴随了很多人经历了他们的七年，可能是中学的七年，出来社会的七年，步入中年的七年，结婚生孩子的七年，慢慢老去的七年。尤记得在这七年里一些笔战过的朋友，如今，他们很多应该都已经是社运里的老前辈了。希望你们继续在各自的岗位里，捍卫这个社会的正义。
I have been reading this online media for seven years. It has raised my social awareness and I have learned a lot from the website. I really want to thank Merdeka Review. And it is quite a miracle that it survived for so long. In the process many people have sacrificed.
From 29 to 36 years old, this country has gone through so much in seven years and I have developed a different understanding of this piece of land. You probably have also spent the seven years with them, when you were in secondary school, or when you entered society, or when you were middle aged, or when you were married with kids, or when you grew old. Some friends who I had online debates with have now become experienced social activists. I hope that all of you can continue to defend social justice in your new positions.