Utusan Malaysia veterans shed tears over Malay daily’s fate

The Malay daily’s former group chief editor, Johan Jaaffar, said the newspaper was respected as much as it was feared, during the span of its operation over eight decades. Source (pic): KitaReporters

Former Utusan Malaysia employees should not only be paid their wages until the end of October but must be compensated as well to alleviate their suffering.

Utusan Melayu Malaysia Veterans Club (KVUM) stood in solidarity demanding that the new owners of the company take into account the welfare of the affected daily’s employees and their families.

In all, 1,600 employees have lost their jobs, and at least 6,400 souls are affected by the closure of Utusan Melayu – many are young children who need money for schooling, clothes, food and medical bills.

The KVUM statement also questioned the motives of the new owners in acquiring a company while, even at the onset, knew the company could not be saved, further exacerbating the situation.

Last Wednesday, Utusan workers were jolted by a memorandum signed by the company’s executive chairman announcing the cessation of all its business activities.


KUALA LUMPUR: Former Utusan Malaysia employees should not only be paid their wages until the end of October but must be compensated as well to alleviate their suffering.

The new company taking over the now defunct Malay daily must also settle all payments to the 800 staff who had earlier accepted the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS).




“We are extremely concerned that this action of simply closing a company would set a precedence for other companies to emulate this as an easy way to resolve their problems.

“Which by doing so, would see companies saving millions of ringgit by circumventing the need to offer mutual or mandatory separation schemes,” said Utusan Melayu Malaysia Veterans Club (KVUM) veteran and moderator Tan Sri Khalid Yunus at an emotional and sombre press conference, here, today.

Present were more than 50 of the Malay daily’s veterans, including Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar, Tan Sri Suleimen Mohamed, Rosle Azmi, Ku Seman Ku Hussain and Rosminah Ahmad.

The veterans stood in solidarity demanding that the new owners of the company take into account the welfare of the affected daily’s employees and their families.

“What happened to Utusan Melayu was a shock to us. We would never have imagined that the 80-year-old company would bring down its curtain in such a manner.

“The company has been championing the interests of the Malays since its first publication, Utusan Melayu in Jawi.

“The Utusan brand was unique and undoubtedly responsible for positioning the company as the premier Malay newspaper company all these years.”

In all, 1,600 employees have lost their jobs, and at least 6,400 souls are affected by the closure of Utusan Melayu – many are young children who need money for schooling, clothes, food and medical bills.

“We regret the fact that very little attention had been given to the plight of 800 staffers affected by the move.

“We must also not lose sight of more than 800 other staffers who had taken VSS before this, who had not been paid in full, said a teary-eyed Khalid, while reading KVUM’s statement to the press.

As sobs resonated throughout the meeting room, KVUM insisted that the new company give priority to former staffers when they decide to republish Utusan Malaysia, Mingguan Malaysia, Kosmo! and Kosmo! Ahad.

The veterans also demanded that the new company settle all payments in terms of traveling allowances, overtime claims, medical expenses and any form of gratuity due to staffers for the last one year.

“We also want the appointed interim liquidator company, UHY Advisory (KL) Sdn Bhd, to act in a responsible and transparent manner.

“It must also allow representatives appointed by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Utusan Melayu branch and the National Union of Newspaper Workers (NUNW) Utusan Melayu branch to monitor the sales of assets to mitigate any forms of impropriety.

“We are talking about the interests of people, and their everyday living. Be fair to them.

“We are not stopping anyone from running their business, but when you talk about the human needs of people, you have to consider carefully the livelihoods of those involved”, said the former deputy information minister.

The KVUM statement also questioned the motives of the new owners in acquiring a company while, even at the onset, knew the company could not be saved, further exacerbating the situation.

“The action manifests the failure of the new owners who took over the company but had failed to improve and add value to it, thus allowing it to deteriorate further.

“We were informed that the company had run out of options other than the one taken; however drastic it was.

“We are not here to point fingers as to who were responsible for the state of affairs of the company prior to its closure.

“However, we are disappointed that the action taken by the company had not taken into consideration the interests of the staffers.

“We sense that the management was more interested in saving the licences of Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo and its Sunday editions because the brands have monetary value,” the statement read.

The Malay daily’s former group chief editor, Johan Jaaffar, said the newspaper was respected as much as it was feared, during the span of its operation over eight decades.

“We are passionate and are part of the legacy of this 80-year-old company.

“We can’t allow it to just be killed. If you want to save the brand, why not save the company as well?

“We don’t want this to be an easy way out or set a precedence for any company.

“Is it going to be as simple as paying staffers one month salary and moving on?

“We are talking about the livelihoods of 1,600 people.”

He said he believed that the new owners were “turnaround artists who could save the company if they had wanted to”.

Last Wednesday, Utusan workers were jolted by a memorandum signed by the company’s executive chairman announcing the cessation of all its business activities.

The memorandum stated that the board of directors had on Oct 7 approved the proposal for Creditors Voluntary Liquidation.

The memorandum further informed staffers that their last day of work was Oct 9.

The Utusan Group, published Utusan Malaysia, Mingguan Malaysia, Kosmo! and Kosmo! Ahad, as well as various magazines.

All its 862 employees have been told to go on forced leave until Oct 30.

Last Thursday, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the ministry would be going after Utusan Melayu for shutting down its operations without sufficient notice and leaving its workers in a lurch.

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