End of the road for Utusan

A man reads a copy of Utusan Malaysia, the daily’s final edition ahead of the media company’s closure tomorrow.

KUALA LUMPUR: Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd, which recently sold 70% of its shares in subsidiary Dilof Sdn Bhd to a company linked to Media Prima Bhd, will cease operations for all three of its main publications tomorrow.

A source told FMT the staff were informed of the decision yesterday evening.

“The heads of department told us that today would be the last day for Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo!

“Starting tomorrow, there will be no more Utusan,” the source said.

Another told FMT that the reporters had been asked to clear their desks.

On Monday, Utusan Melayu said it would sell a 70% stake in Dilof to Aurora Mulia Sdn Bhd, a major stakeholder of Media Prima.

It said this was to ensure that the 80-year-old Utusan and 15-year-old Kosmo! could continue operations.

It is understood that the company tasked with managing the shutting-down process will hold a special briefing for staff on Oct 29.

Workers meanwhile said they have to be given official notification of the closure.

Empty desks in a section of the Utusan Melayu office in Kuala Lumpur this morning, after workers were notified of the media company’s closure tomorrow.

“We can only get a clearer picture once we receive the letter,” one employee told FMT.

The Utusan Melayu group had been planning a second round of staff termination this month, leaving skeletal editorial teams for the company’s flagship publications consisting of a total of 70 journalists.

Utusan, the country’s oldest Malay language daily, started as a Jawi daily in Singapore in 1939.

The paper, often criticised for its uncomplimentary coverage of opposition leaders during the Barisan Nasional rule, announced several restructuring measures following the change of government in May 2018.

At its height, the company employed 2,000 people including some 500 editorial staff.

Meanwhile, a source said there had been talk of a merger with the New Straits Times Press and Media Prima, the two other media companies once heavily linked to Umno.

“There is a possibility that the merger plan first mooted in 2005 could be revived,” the source said.