Annuar: UMNO no longer has say in Utusan’s day-to-day operations

Annuar said UMNO no longer has any say in the newspaper’s editorial or its day-to-day operations, which was once the mouthpiece of Umno.

Umno denied that it had washed its hands off Utusan Malaysia. According to Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa, the Barisan Nasional component member said it had constantly provided assistance to the beleaguered Malay daily, adding that the lack of funds had deterred them from doing more.

“Umno used to hold substantial shares in Utusan Malaysia. (But) beginning of this year, Umno decided to forgo a major part of the shares. At this moment, Umno is no longer holding that big block, except the remaining small percentage of shares.

“As far as we are concerned, Utusan Malaysia is facing a business problem and not a political problem. We strongly believe that they need a business solution. But we are in no position to dictate or say anything because we are no longer the majority shareholders,” he said here today.

Annuar also said he agreed with the party’s former president, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who said that the party’s inability to help Utusan Malaysia was due to their accounts being frozen following the changeover of the government last year.


KUALA LUMPUR: Umno denied that it had washed its hands off Utusan Malaysia.

Instead, the Barisan Nasional component member said it had constantly provided assistance to the beleaguered Malay daily, adding that the lack of funds had deterred them from doing more.

Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said blaming the party and claiming that it had “washed hands” was uncalled for as Umno had been helping the newspaper, which was established in 1939, even before the situation became worse.


He said the party no longer has any say in the newspaper’s editorial or its day-to-day operations, which was once the mouthpiece of Umno.

“Umno used to hold substantial shares in Utusan Malaysia. (But) beginning of this year, Umno decided to forgo a major part of the shares. At this moment, Umno is no longer holding that big block, except the remaining small percentage of shares.

“As far as we are concerned, Utusan Malaysia is facing a business problem and not a political problem. We strongly believe that they need a business solution. But we are in no position to dictate or say anything because we are no longer the majority shareholders,” he said here today.

Annuar also said he agreed with the party’s former president, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who said that the party’s inability to help Utusan Malaysia was due to their accounts being frozen following the changeover of the government last year.

“I fully support what Datuk Seri Najib (Razak) mentioned today. If the government can be so kind to unfreeze our account, we would be in the better position to assist Utusan Malaysia.

“Our cash and also our account’s had been frozen for more than a year, putting Umno in a very tight financial position. Otherwise, we should be able to help Utusan probably better,” he said.

He also said that the party had constantly been engaging with Utusan Malaysia’s management and they were trying to understand the level of problem faced by the daily.

“We are looking into possibilities to assist in any way we can. That is our commitment. Even today, this afternoon, there will be a meeting chaired by our president (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi); trying to think and figure out, and understand the problem but we cannot fully interfere because we are now not the majority shareholders.”

Annuar said if the government returned Umno’s fund, the party would immediately have the availability of RM200 million, which they would pump in to assist the newspaper’s staff.

He said the problem with Utusan Malaysia did not occur overnight and that the party had always helped the newspaper which it considered as the bastion of Malay journalism.

However, when asked the type of assistance the party had already provided to the Malay daily, Annuar refused to divulge the details.

It is learnt that its editorial staff, in a special briefing on Monday were told that the company no longer had the financial means to continue its operations, and as such, would bid farewell to its print operations.

The Utusan Group which publishes Utusan Malaysia, Mingguan Malaysia, Kosmo!, and Kosmo! Ahad reportedly failed to pay salaries since June and had, prior to this, delayed the payment of salaries.

Salaries of executive employees were reportedly delayed for two months, with the last partial payment of RM2,000 paid in June.

The company previously carried out a voluntary separation scheme, which reduced the number of workers from 1,400 to 823. However, VSS payments were also delayed.

The newspaper’s readership started declining in 2004, but major financial problems came about following the change of government in the 14th General Election last year.

Utusan Malaysia traces its roots to 1939 when it was first published as Utusan Melayu. It was founded by Yusof Ishak, who later became the first president of Singapore, and Abdul Rahim Kajai, dubbed the father of Malay journalism.

Kosmo! on the other hand was launched on Aug 30, 2004.

In its heyday, Utusan Malaysia’s circulation peaked at 350,000 copies a day in the 1990s and was one of the largest selling newspapers in Malaysia.

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