Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, known for his close association with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is now the largest individual shareholder in Media Prima.
Media Prima is a public listed media company where the Umno had an 11.09% stake. The party sold the stake to Syed Mokhtar, making him the third largest shareholder.
Media Prima owns four free-to-air television channels and newspaper publisher the New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd. During Barisan Nasional’s rule, the NST has always been associated with the Umno, people used to call it the ‘English Umno paper’.
Now that is has fallen into Syed Mokhtar hands, will it become a Mahathir paper?
In a report dated June 2018, Hong Leong Bank said, “Under the former government, Media Prima was ultimately controlled by BN. In fact, group managing director Datuk Kamal Khalid even ran the communications unit in the Prime Minister’s Office.”
A definite change is shaping up in Malaysia’s media landscape now, but it is not one that most people would have wanted.
Pakatan Harapan came to power on the basis it will free the media, but with Dr Mahathir’s man taking a firm grip of Media Prima, it is another ball game.
Malaysians were hoping to see a new golden age in the local media after the Pakatan swept to power, defeating the incumbents from Barisan Nasional.
But there was a stagnation in local media, with many old faces still dominating the scene and playing their cards against the Pakatan.
The two other largest shareholders are Mitsubishi UFJ and Employees Provident Fund and The Edge says Umno is now left with a 7.96% stake in Media Prima through Altima Inc, reports The Edge.
In 2014, Syed Mokhtar completed the purchase of The Malaysian Reserve – staff of the financial daily. The paper became a mouthpiece for Dr Mahathir with then PM Najib Razak threatening a crackdown on the publication.
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