PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has blamed Pakatan Harapan for Umno’s inability to help struggling newspaper company Utusan Melayu, once owned by the party, and which is feared to cease operations on Wednesday.
He said Umno was keen to help the company, despite having sold shares in Utusan in February. “But how can we help? Umno’s bank account has been frozen by the ‘cruel’ PH government,” he said in a posting this evening.
Najib, who is a former Umno president, said Umno’s general election funds amounting to RM116 million had also been seized and frozen by the PH government, adding that a year had passed and PH was still unable to prove that funds from the account were obtained illegally.
The account should be reinstated and funds returned, if no criminal charges were forthcoming, he said. “The PH government knows and realises that these funds are legitimate and should be returned.” He accused PH of an act of political vengeance in taking out a civil suit over the funds to “burden Umno and myself”.
Utusan had been victimised in the process, he said.
Umno’s bank accounts were frozen shortly after the 2018 general election under anti-money laundering laws as part of investigations into the scandal-ridden government investment arm 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
Meanwhile, Najib urged Malaysians to help the company by buying copies of the Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo dailies, and to visit their websites and share online articles.
“Businesses with advertising budgets can also consider buying advertorial space in Utusan or Kosmo, he said, and urged businessmen to also consider investing or collaborating with Utusan. The company still had potential and experienced staff if managed well.
“Don’t hope that the PH government will help the oldest newspaper company in Malaysia,” he said. “Don’t hope that the PH government will save the cultural heritage and the mouthpiece of the Malays.”
It was reported that all publications under the Utusan Group – Utusan Malaysia, Mingguan Malaysia, Kosmo! and Kosmo! Ahad – will cease print and online publications after suffering financial upheaval following last year’s general election.