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News 1

MalaysiaKini floored by server breakdown
July 26, 2000 (Wednesday)

By Mary Anne Tan (dari akhbar dalam talian MSC Times.Com)

Upstart online newspaper MalaysiaKini which has been garnering increasing numbers of "eyeballs" with its fiercely independent approach to local news coverage has been put temporarily out of service by the unethical tactics of its US-based web hosting service.

Since Monday morning regular followers of MalaysiaKini, which touts itself as an alternative conduit for news, have been unable to access the web site following the unexpected shut down of its server which is located in Texas, USA.

MalaysiaKini business manager and co-founder Premesh Chandran said that he and Steven Gan, managing editor and co-founder, are working feverishly to resolve the problem. They hope to have the online newspaper up and running again by Thursday. Premesh said that MalaysiaKini has purchased its own server for RM20,000 and in three or four weeks' time, it hopes to be able to have two MalaysiaKini web sites (mirror sites) to offer.

The two domains, the present www.MalaysiaKini.com and the soon-to-be launched new domain www.MalaysiaKini.com.my will enable Malaysians to continue following the daily news coverage even if one of them should go down. Premesh said the idea of having two web sites is to divide the traffic load and speed up access to the news content. He said that having two web sites will also reduce the possibility of MalaysiaKini being held "hostage" again by a foreign web hosting company.

According to Premesh, MalaysiaKini's problem arose after the web hosting company in Texas pulled the plug on MalaysiaKini's server on Monday without any prior warning.

"The US firm told us that traffic flowing to our site was too heavy. We now have about 100,000 readers using 100 gigabytes a day and they said that that was excessive. They said that we were entitled to free use of the server for only up to 12 gigabytes and anything above that was chargeable. They insisted that we pay for the extra 90 gigabytes that we were using and wanted us to fork over the additional money before they allowed the server to become operational again," Premesh told MSCTimes.com.

Premesh added that MalaysiaKini has been paying the firm regularly every month for the use of the server but now the US firm insists that it be paid US$1,800 as excess charges and additional charges that could add to a several hundred US dollars a day if MalaysiaKini wants to continue using the server.

"Look, we're not rich. We can't afford to pay that exorbitant sum and besides the US firm's demands are unethical. MalaysiaKini has an agreement with the firm for an unlimited monthly data transfer, which means we can have an unlimited amount of traffic. We feel this is illegal and totally unethical," he said.

Premesh said that when MalaysiaKini first started, it had only 30,000 hits a day but in March when the numbers shot up, the original server they used (also in the US) could not cope and MalaysiaKini had to move to the present Texas based server.

"We realized even then that we would need a server that would allow for unlimited traffic. Now, however, the US firm has changed rules midway and we feel we are being held hostage because of their bad business practice. This problem couldn't have come at a worse time, when many Malaysians are very keen to keep abreast of the ongoing investigations into the recent arms heist in Sauk and the Al Ma'unah group," Premesh said.

"We plan to lodge a formal complaint with the US embassy here but we don't have the finances to sue the US firm. Meanwhile we are making plans to move MalaysiaKini to another server outside the US," he added.

To avoid a recurrence of such hostage tactics, MalaysiaKini plans to host its own server and would have already done so if not for some unfortunate technical delays.

"We had anticipated the heavy traffic might cause the server to break down and wanted to be prepared for that eventuality by having our own server. The server was supposed to have been operational by July 1 but there was a technical hitch," he said.

MalaysiaKini should go back online by Thursday, if all goes well. - MSC Times.Com




July 26, 2000 (dari terbitan dalam talian Asia Features.Com)

Malaysia's fledgling Internet newspaper, Malaysiakini.com, has fallen victim to its own success. Its US-based server was shut down on Monday due to "excessive traffic" into the website.

"Our web host informed us that its server is unable to handle the heavy flow of traffic, and thus we are in the process moving the website elsewhere. Malaysiakini should be back online in the next few days," Malaysiakini said in an e-mail statement.

The online newspaper, launched last November, apologized to its readers for the "unforeseen problem." Before the hiccup, Malaysiakini (or Malaysia Now) was getting more than 100,000 hits per day.

The inaccessibility of the Malaysiakini website had prompted its readers to wonder if the site had been barred by the government or hacked by outsiders. However, Malaysiakini's explanation puts to rest rumors and insinuations that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's government had finally cracked down on the feisty online newspaper.

The daily, published in English and Malay, has proved a thorn in the government's side with it independent news analyses and no-holds-barred investigative reporting drawing tens of thousands of visitors each day. Alternative news media such as Malaysiakini has thrived as the government-controlled mainstream media lost much of its credibility with its one-sided reporting in favor of the ruling National Front coalition.

Founded by former print media journalist Steven Gan, the Malaysiakini site was launched on a US$100,000 (380,000 ringgit) capital channelled by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance comprising associations of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Bangkok-based association helps promote press freedom in the region.

Malaysiakini has also won international recognition by winning a journalism award from the Reporteur San Fronterier, an organization which provides information on reporters who write freely and are in jeopardy because of threats by parties who would want them to stop reporting objectively.

While the temporary shutdown is an inconvenience to its loyal readers, it also marks Malaysiakini as having outgrown its humble beginnings and is fast developing into an online news organization to be reckoned with. - Asiafeatures.com

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