Utusan, the oldest Malay newspaper in Malaysia will cease to exist on Wednesday, August 21 when it will halt all print and online publications.
It falls victim to the disruptions the internet brought to the news industry but its closure is also linked to the fall of the Barisan Nasional last year.
The change of regime did not bring any good to the publication, which is now an opposition-owned newspaper. Until February this year, it belonged to the Umno, the party of ex-PM Najib Razak.
But the Umno lost direct control of the company after 31.6% stake of the company’s shares changed hands on Feb 8. The buyer is an Umno man.
It was facing serious financial difficulties, forcing it to dispose of some assets. It planned to liquidate additional assets in the next few weeks but the management made a decision to shut down all its operations on August 19.
As such, all the publications under the Utusan Group–Utusan Malaysia, Mingguan Malaysia, Kosmo!, and Kosmo! Ahad–will cease to exist this Wednesday (Tomorrow).
Last year, the company that owns the publications, Utusan Melayu (M) Bh
d disposed-off an industrial leasehold land in Kuala Lumpur measuring about 4,715 sq m, for RM18 million.
The Bursa Malaysia listed company then said it will use the net proceeds from the sale to fund partially working capital requirements for the group to finance its day-to-day operations.
The company had strong backing from the previous government but with the loss of Umno-led Barisan Nasional in the general elections in 2018, things continued to spiral downwards.
The company a five-storey corner shop office in Petaling Jaya last year for RM7 million. It purchased the property for Rm4.82 million in 1995.
The Star said
on Monday August 19 the paper’s executive chairman Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir admitted the company is penniless.
The management communicated the news at a meeting between staff representatives and Human Resources Ministry personnel earlier on Monday (Aug 19), says The Star.
The staff was told the company has no money left to pay the staff or operate the business any longer.
Some staff members demonstrated to claim their paycheck, which they say they did not collect for the past three months.
The decision to close the historic Malay-language publication was made by the board of directors at a meeting earlier on Monday.
The official closure will be finalised once the group is de-listed from Bursa Malaysia.
Utusan Malaysia was founded by Yusof Ishak who became the first President of Singapore. It was first published as Utusan Melayu in Jawi in 1939 in Singapore. Abdul Rahim Kajai, known as the father of Malay journalism, is also a co-founder.
It relocated to Kuala Lumpur in 1959. The romanised version of Utusan Melayu, Utusan Malaysia, first started printing on Sept 1, 1967.