Consider alternatives to closure, HR minister tells Utusan

Radzi Razak

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said alternatives should be considered to keep the longest running newspaper in the country afloat and running. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — The owner of Utusan Malaysia should reconsider ceasing operations, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said today ahead of the Malay daily’s imminent closure.

He said alternatives should be considered to keep the longest running newspaper in the country afloat and running.

“If it is true they are shutting down, I am asking the employers to reconsider their decision

“Utusan has been in the industry for a very long time. They should see whether other quarters can help and rehabilitate the company. I hope it doesn’t happen. I hope Utusan will reconsider,” he told a press conference at Parliament.

The Umno-linked newspaper’s publisher Utusan Melayu Bhd issued a circular to inform employees that its 80-year operation is at an end after its board of directors approved on October 7 the creditors’ voluntary liquidation and appointed UHY Advisory KL as its interim liquidator.

Its executive chairman Datuk Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir said in a memorandum that today is the last working day for employees although the last date of service has been set for October 31, the daily reported on its website this morning.

A staff briefing with the liquidators is also scheduled for 3pm on October 30.

The past few years have been hard as a prolonged financial crisis that culminated in workers protests over unpaid wages.

Kulasegaran urged affected staff to seek assistance under the Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS), which would provide payment up to 80 per cent of a worker’s salary for a period of six months. 

“The scheme will then look for job opportunities for them, set up job interviews, and conduct trainings, among others, which will all be covered by EIS,” he said.

Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa separately reporters in Parliament that the party will look into the matter, even as he admitted that leaders were not sure of the next course of action.

“In business, this is normal. We will look into what the cease operation meant,” he said.

On Monday, prominent tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary reportedly extended his control over Umno’s former media empire by gaining a crucial role over the future of Utusan Group’s newspapers.

In an announcement to the stock exchange yesterday Utusan’s publishing company Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd said it would sell a 70 per cent stake in its wholly-owned subsidiary Dilof Sdn Bhd to Aurora Mulia Sdn Bhd.

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