KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has chided Datuk Seri Najib Razak today for blaming the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for Malay daily Utusan Malaysia’s financial woes.
The PKR president said the former prime minister made the remark simply to score political points, explaining that the paper’s situation today was due to its company’s mismanagement.
“Their management issues were exacerbated somewhat due to change of government,” he told reporters here.
Anwar was responding to Najib’s remarks suggesting that Umno can help save the Malay daily if the PH administration unfreezes the party’s bank accounts.
Najib’s remarks came following news yesterday that the Malay daily would cease operations tomorrow after staff claimed their wages had not been paid for months.
“Najib just said that to score political points.
“Notwithstanding, I still maintain it is best if we could revive and help to save Utusan,” Anwar said.
When asked if the government could intervene in the matter, Anwar said it is unlikely that the government will help a private company as it is not the government’s responsibility.
“Utusan is a part of history, especially during the rise of the people during the fight for independence.
“Some people claim that Utusan was a mouthpiece for Umno... if its editorial decisions were for the country, people and current affairs, then it could have been saved.
“I wish for it to be saved because it will be sad if the Malay daily shut down,” he said.
In his posting on Facebook, Najib explained that Umno’s bank accounts, including RM116 million of the party’s funds meant for the 14th general election, were confiscated by the PH government.
He added that following the law, the PH government should stop the freeze order on Umno’s accounts and return the funds if there is no criminal conviction within a year.
He also pointed out that the PH government knows and acknowledges that these funds are legitimate and should be returned.
Najib claimed that due to political oppression, it has issued a civil suit to continue to freeze the funds to torment Umno and him.
He said as a result, Utusan has also become a victim.
However, it was reported today that Utusan and Kosmo! will not shut down after all, but print editions will cost an extra 50 cents.
The Utusan Malaysia print edition will be an additional 50 cents from the current RM1.50 while the Kosmo! print edition will increase from RM1 to RM1.50 and Mingguan Malaysia from RM2 to RM2.50.