Utusan advances staff RM2,000 each to ‘ease burden’

There is speculation that Utusan Malaysia may finally be rolling out its last print edition tomorrow after 80 years.

PETALING JAYA: Troubled Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, which is expected to cease publication tomorrow, said it will pay its employees a maximum of RM2,000 each as advance tonight.

In a circular sighted by FMT, it said the advance will be deducted from their net salaries still owed to them.

“We hope that with the advance, it will help alleviate your current financial burden,” the circular, issued by human resource manager Mohd Nazlan Osman, said.

It comes a day after nearly 100 current and former employees of Utusan Melayu Bhd picketed in front of the daily’s main office, claiming the company had failed to pay them their wages for one-and-a-half months now.

It was reported today that after 80 years, Utusan Malaysia may finally be rolling out its last print edition tomorrow, after the company accumulated losses of RM261.61 million as of June 30.

During its heyday in the 1990s, the paper’s circulation peaked at 350,000 copies a day and it was one of the largest selling newspapers in the country.

However, sales crashed after 2004, slipping to 250,000, and further down to 144,438 copies in the first half of 2016.

Utusan Melayu Bhd has been in the red since 2012. In August last year, the company triggered the PN17 criteria after defaulting on its principal and profit payments to Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd and Maybank Islamic Bhd totalling RM1.18 million.

Earlier today, the company’s shares fell 27.27%, dropping 3 sen to 8 sen for a market capitalisation of RM8.86 million at 9.15am. The group turned in a seventh consecutive quarterly net loss at RM3.89 million for the three-month period ending June 30.

The group also faces possible delisting from Bursa Malaysia in view of its financial distress and failure to find someone to bail it out.