Kadir blames ‘4th-floor boys’ for Utusan Malaysia’s demise

Veteran newsman Kadir Jasin says the problem was compounded by the advancement of digital technology and the national education system’s failure to retain students’ interest in reading.

PETALING JAYA: Prominent blogger Kadir Jasin has blamed the “fourth-floor boys” of the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak administrations for Utusan Malaysia’s demise.

In a blog post, Kadir, a veteran newsman, said the unprofessional and excessive interference by the “fourth- floor boys” during the Abdullah era led to readers doubting the paper’s credibility.

“One of their biggest mistakes was to use the mainstream media to kill off Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s legacy and prop up Abdullah,” he said, adding this was when mainstream newspapers saw a decline in their quality and sales.

This, Kadir said, was compounded by the advancement of digital technology and the national education system’s failure to retain students’ interest in reading.

The situation, he said, became worse under Najib’s “fourth-floor boys” who enlisted the help of “consultants” who took a “slash and burn” approach.

“In the end, newspapers like Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian and New Straits Times, along with television station TV3, were rejected by readers and viewers.”

The irony, he said, was these media organisations were “Malaysianised” during the era of Abdul Razak Hussein but were on their deathbed because of his son, Najib.

Kadir said he could not see how Utusan could be saved unless it was taken over by a new owner who is committed to new age journalism ideals and has deep pockets.

“The takeover by Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary or anyone with the financial capabilities will surely breathe new life into Media Prima and Utusan. But, ultimately, it comes down to the editors and reporters,” he said, adding it was up to them to restore the confidence of the masses through quality and professional journalism.

It was recently reported that a company, believed to be controlled by tycoon Syed Mokhtar, would take over a controlling stake of Utusan’s publishing company Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd.

Today, it was announced that Utusan, the country’s oldest Malay language daily, which started as a Jawi daily in Singapore in 1939, and Kosmo! would cease all operations from today.