KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — Former Utusan Malaysia personalities who capitulated the newspaper’s independence to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Umno should not be accepted into its successor, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said.
Writing on his personal blog, the former New Straits Times group chief editor said this was because they had chosen to use the Malay language newspaper as a mouthpiece for the Malay nationalist party and its disgraced leader.
“The board, management, and Utusan’s editorial department took the suicidal path of surrendering their entire heart and soul to become sycophants to Umno in general and Najib in particular.
“Utusan chose not to practise professional journalism and instead became Umno’s propaganda machine,” he wrote.
He added that the newspaper’s fate was sealed when it would not or could not adapt to Umno’s defeat.
Kadir went on to caution the paper’s new owners, reportedly the Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary-linked Aurora Mulia, to shun former Utusan editors and reporters who served the so-called “Fourth Floor Boys” for the newspaper’s eventual relaunch.
Failure to heed this warning will doom the newspaper from the start, he said.
Utusan Melayu announced that it was entering voluntary liquidation on October 9, effectively ending the Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo! newspapers in its stable.
Utusan chief executive Datuk Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir said the turnaround that the management attempted was unsuccessful at improving the company’s finances.
At its prime, the country’s oldest Malay language newspaper was so intertwined with Umno that it was viewed as the party’s unofficial organ.