When Steven Gan set up Malaysiakini, or Malaysia Today, two years ago, the last place from which he expected his Web site to get help was the office of Malaysia's notoriously media-unfriendly Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. Yet that's what happened. Mahathir accused Malaysiakini of getting backing from international financier George Soros, whom the Prime Minister blames for sparking Malaysia's currency crisis. The result, says Gan: "free advertising."
Gan's site today claims a readership of 150,000--and its 38-year-old editor-in-chief hopes to do nothing less than "break the government's monopoly on the truth." In April, Malaysia Today made its mark by uncovering the secret detention of 10 political activists.
Gan fears that Malaysia's restrictive media licensing laws will be amended to include Web sites. That would put him out of business. Until then, he'll make the Net sizzle.