Umno gives up stake in Utusan

PETALING JAYA: Umno has given up its 31.6% share in Utusan Melayu Berhad, ending its ownership of the media company, long regarded as the Malay party’s propaganda tool.

Utusan Malaysia, the company’s flagship publication, which also acts as a mouthpiece for Umno, said the party’s 35 million shares had been transferred to a company owned by Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir.

Aziz, the current managing director of Utusan, now holds the shares through his company, Opulence Asia Sdn Bhd.

In December, Aziz, a former MP for Kulim-Bandar Bahru, stepped down as the executive chairman of Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd (UUMB), six months after being appointed to the post due to “other business commitments”.

His resignation came two weeks after he began downsizing operations at the company.

Following the Barisan Nasional’s loss in the May 9 polls, there were calls among the daily’s union members for Umno to let go of its stake in the company.

The Malay-language daily has for a long time been able to survive through government contracts, procured through its links with Umno.

Last August, it was reported that the company faced the possibility of being delisted from the stock exchange after it was classified as a Practice Note 17 (PN17) company, which indicates that its financial situation is critical.