KUALA LUMPUR: Former Utusan Malaysia editors have expressed their sorrow over news that the Malay daily might cease print operations from tomorrow.
Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar, the newspaper’s former group chief editor, said he was devastated by the news, adding that Utusan Malaysia was an important mouthpiece of the Malays.
“I never thought this would happen. Utusan was published with the idea that it was run fully by the Malays to be the voice of Malays and to defend Malay interest.”
Johan, who worked in Utusan from 1992 to 1998, said it was unfortunate that it had yet to be rescued.
“I thought somebody would save the newspaper.”
Former group assistant editor-in-chief Datuk Zaini Hassan said this marked a dark history in Malaysia and Malay journalism. The newsman, who worked with the daily for 29 years, said he saw a downward trend in the last 10 years.
“There was a deficit of trust in readers, especially among the Malays. There has been a drop in distribution and advertising.”
He said the newspaper relied too much on institutional advertisements.
“When the last government lost, institutional advertisements also stopped and the income stopped.”
He said Utusan had no stable source of income and did not have enough to sustain the publication. This, he added, continued for many years, coupled with management issues, digitalisation and the advent of social media.
“Utusan is an institution in itself. I hope that there will be Malay entrepreneurs willing to take over the newspaper and make sure that it survives.”
Its staff said they were shocked by the news.
“We had no idea this bomb would be dropped on us today,” said a worker, who requested anonymity.
Another employee said they were in limbo over where their next pay cheque would come from.
“Just imagine what those in the bureaus feel. What will happen to them? Do they remain in the states or do they come back to Kuala Lumpur?
“Where are they going to get money to move when they have families to take care of? They have no income.”