Utusan Melayu Sdn Bhd, home to local newspapers including the oldest newspaper Utusan Malaysia, Mingguan Malaysia and also Kosmo! will shut down on Wednesday, ultimately ceasing all print and online publications.
Utusan’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chief Taufek Razak said that executive chairman Datuk Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir admitted that the company is struggling with financial issues, as reported by The Star.
The news was announced during a meeting between the staff representatives and Human Resources Ministry earlier on Monday (19th August). In an interview with Malay Mail, Taufek clarified the news, “We will be working until Wednesday. After that, we will close down. No more operation. We have yet to receive anything in black and white, but we (NUJ Utusan) were informed by staff and their bosses informed them.”
Meanwhile, Utusan‘s sister publication Kosmo! editor Lokman Othman was informed about the closure during the same meeting. He was assigned to inform his fellow staffs in Kosmo! on the news.
“Including today, we only have three days of publication. Then, our last paper will be published on Wednesday, whereby on the front page, including on Utusan Malaysia, we will notify the readers that we will stop publication on Wednesday. Meaning tomorrow (Tuesday 20th August), we will still work for the Wednesday publication, and then we don’t have to work,” Lokman said, as reported by Malay Mail.
The publication group had apparently failed in giving salaries to their workers since June. Even before this, they had repeatedly delayed salary payments to their staffs. Salaries for executive staff were also delayed for two months, with the last partial payment of RM2,000 being paid in June. Despite having initiated a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) that saw its staff cut from 1,400 to 823, the payments have been also delayed, as reported by The Star.
On August 9th, NUJ Utusan revealed in a press conference that up to 250 union members including journalists, photographers and editors have yet to receive their payment for the last 2 months. With that being said, local union members of journalist have joined forces to launch Tabung Kebajikan NUJ to help with financial assistance as well as basic needs including rice, cooking oil, diapers and formula milk for babies.
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Official announcement regarding the closure of the company has yet to be officially announced as of today (Tuesday 20th August).