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Aliran Monthly magazine to stop print after 33 years

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Himanshu Bhatt reports on Aliran’s transition into the digital era as the group’s flagship publication ends its eventful 33-year journey.

Aliran Monthly over the years - Photograph: Himanshu Bhatt/fz.com
Aliran Monthly over the years – Photograph: Himanshu Bhatt/fz.com

The iconic Aliran Monthly will (soon) cease to be printed after 33 eventful years, ending a tradition of independent alternative journalism during a time when Malaysians have had to bear with restrained mainstream media.

The magazine was among the most significant journals to convey information and criticisms on Malaysian affairs during the 1980s and 90s, before the advent and popularity of the internet.

The print publication is being ended to allow its editorial to focus and develop its online portal and e-newsletter.

Henry Loh, co-editor of the Aliran e-newsletter, conveyed the decision to members and supporters in an email message on 3 December. (You can subscribe to the Aliran e-newsletter by entering your email address in the box in the right sidebar – Aliran.)

The announcement had already been made internally earlier on 24 November, during Aliran’s annual general meeting.

It was decided that the magazine will no longer run in print after five more issues, as the organisation “enters a digital era”.

This means that the final print issue should be in the second quarter of next year.

“Plans are afoot to hold a historical retrospective on the journey of Aliran as a movement and the role of the monthly magazine which has for the past 33 years served as an icon for the organisation,” Loh said in his message.

The magazine is the publication of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) of the same name which is Malaysia’s oldest human rights group.

The NGO was launched as ‘Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara’ (literally, ‘society for the flow of national consciousness’) in Penang on 12 August 1977.

Over the years, Aliran Monthly has been a prominent mainstay in airing and exposing an array of corruption and other scandals that many mainstream media agencies failed to highlight or deliberate on.

In the face of frequent intimidation and disruptions, its publishers, contributors and circulation crew worked to make accessible a range of analyses, commentaries and news on civil and human rights issues to the public.

Valuable record of the 1980s and 90s

When contacted, Aliran treasurer and frequent editorial contributor Anil Netto described he magazine as a “flagship” of the movement.

“The issues printed over the years contain useful historical records of what transpired in Malaysia in the 1980s and 90s,” he said.

“It was probably the only journal in English, apart from political party publications, to provide alternative news and insights to the Malaysian public in those years,” he added.

“Many of the topics that were articulated, such as on human rights and corruption, were considered novelty, even subversive, then,” he stressed.

Among the momentous episodes of the 1980s and 90s, the monthly covered were the Operasi Lalang mass detention, the controversial upheaval of the judiciary, the Bakun Dam crisis, the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal, Anwar Ibrahim’s ejection from government and the subsequent ‘reformasi’ protests.

It also highlighted cases of graft, racism, aboriginal abuse, government irregularities and media censorship.

The magazine was introduced in 1980, and its online presence began in 1997 with only selected articles initially put on its web portal.

Aliran Monthly currently publishes 11 print issues a year.

The range of articles put online today is more comprehensive.

Source: fz.com

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Nick Martin
30 Dec 2013 7.13pm

This is incredible! 33 years and now moving focus to their digital counterpart! I say this is a great opportunity and time we’re in at the moment to create your own digital content using a service like https://www.Magloft.com and to publish your own creations in the apple newsstand. I’m personally excited about this shift from print to digital and I do believe we will see many more print magazines going digital in the next few years.

30 Dec 2013 1.35pm

For me it’s a real pity! A number of my circle will not be reading the digital version of Aliran. They are (1) not computer competent and (2) do not possess any ipad or any such electronic gadgets or apps to access to the publication. To them the print form was most convenient as they can read when they like or keep it aside for a few days until they are free to read it. They also need not depend on the availability of electricity to recharge the batteries to read it. It a real shame! The influence of Aliran has now been cut by a few readers!

31 Dec 2013 4.20pm
Reply to  xtcher

Hi xtcher, so sorry to hear that. It was an agonising decision for us, as we all felt sentimental and nostalgic over the print magazine. But unfortunately, few among the younger generation are reading much print.

We are still toying with the idea of coming up with the odd irregular publication now and then to cater for those who are not in the digital world, though it might not be same as the Monthly. We shall see what the future holds.

All the same, we hope you will continue to support our cause.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x