Malaysian news websites, popular as an an alternative to government-linked mainstream media, crashed under the demand for news as elections handed the ruling coalition a stunning upset, operators said Sunday.
Operators said they were unsure if it was a systematic attack or if high demand on websites had triggered a shutdown mechanism when results began going online Saturday night.
"The traffic was so high that it triggered an automatic mechanism which assumed we were under attack, automatically shutting down our website," said Steven Gan, co-founder of online news journal Malaysiakini.
"But we cannot be sure if it was a deliberate attack or just a genuinely high volume of traffic," Gan told AFP.
Malaysiakini.com was among many online news websites that were inaccessible to viewers after elections for parliament and state seats.
The slow pace of the mainstream media in communicating huge gains by the opposition also contributed to viewership.
"Traffic really picked up then because the mainstream media was really blacking out the news of the results," said Malaysiakini's CEO Premesh Chandran, adding it was drawing a million viewers an hour before it crashed.
"Maybe some people wanted the results to be delayed. Almost all news websites and the forums were down," said Ng Chong Soon, operations manager of another alternative news website Merdekareview.
Ng said other websites which went down included cari.com.my and several Mandarin-language sites.
Operators reacted by creating alternative links to their domain through blogspots and back-up servers.
"If indeed it has happened to most news websites then it would be good grounds to assume that it was some sort of a systematic attack," Premesh said.
The Barisan Nasional suffered its worst ever result in Saturday's polls, losing its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time since 1969 and conceding four more states to a resurgent opposition.
The government is hostile to independent news blogs and websites, and has threatened them with action under draconian internal security laws. (AFP)
Malaysian news websites crash as poll results pour in