KUALA LUMPUR: A leading Malaysian news portal said Wednesday (Dec 13) it was under investigation over an article critical of a government inquiry, sparking fresh claims of official "harassment" of online media.
The Malaysian Insight is among several news sites that have become popular in recent times for their reporting on official corruption and malfeasance, as they fill a void left by government-controlled newspapers and TV stations.
It is being probed by the internet regulator over a recent editorial which criticised an inquiry into massive central bank losses for allegedly targeting veteran former leader Mahathir Mohamad, a key rival of scandal-plagued Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, said it had summoned key staff members at the site for questioning after receiving "numerous complaints" about the story.
Jahabar Sadiq, who runs the Malaysian Insight, told AFP that he and had two colleagues had given statements to the regulator on Tuesday.
The Malaysian Insight was launched in March and was seen as the successor of another site, The Malaysian Insider. The Insider, also headed by Jahabar, was shut down last year after running reports on a massive financial scandal linked to Najib.
Najib has come under pressure over the alleged looting of billions of dollars from crisis-hit sovereign wealth fund 1MDB that he founded. Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, told AFP that the probe was "quite clearly a harassment effort".
"Rather than try to silence the media, the government should try to explain to the media what it is doing," he said.
The investigation comes after a member of Najib's party the United Malays National Organisation called at the organisation's annual assembly for authorities to probe the site for allegedly insulting the country's leaders.