Utusan Malaysia returns under new owner

Malaysia's oldest Malay-language newspaper now published by media firm linked to tycoon

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's oldest Malay-language newspaper Utusan Malaysia, which stopped publication in October last year, has returned under new ownership and is touting "credibility" as the backbone of its operations.

Its sister publication, a tabloid called Kosmo!, is also back.

Both are published by Media Mulia, which media reports say is controlled by tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary through his company Aurora Mulia.

Utusan and Kosmo! used to be controlled by Umno, until poor financial performance forced them to cease operations nine months ago, with more than 800 staff members losing their jobs.

Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar also owns 31.22 per cent of Media Prima, Malaysia's largest media conglomerate. Media Prima controls four leading private TV stations - TV3, NTV7, 8TV and TV9.

Media Prima is also the parent company of the New Straits Times Press that publishes the New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro.

The reclusive tycoon also publishes business newspaper The Malaysian Reserve.

In a message on Utusan's return, Media Mulia group editor Mohamad Azlan Jaafar said the paper aims to restore readers' confidence with information that is "trustworthy and thought-provoking".

"Credibility will be the backbone of the operations," he wrote.

The paper now carries the tagline Pemikiran Baharu, or New Thinking.

Said Mr Azlan: "The digital explosion, public's perception, trust deficit, (as well as) failure to meet the needs of readers and balance commercial and editorial interests led to the end of this newspaper over nine months ago.

Utusan Malaysia and its sister publication Kosmo! are back after shutting down operations nine months ago over their poor financial performance. PHOTO: UTUSAN ONLINE/ FACEBOOK
Utusan Malaysia and its sister publication Kosmo! are back after shutting down operations nine months ago over their poor financial performance. PHOTO: UTUSAN ONLINE/ FACEBOOK

"The people today want objective, accurate, truthful and fair reporting, whether from political, social or economic aspects."

The front-page headline on its print version yesterday was "Bangkit Semula", or Rising Again.

The report was about Malaysia's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The paper also has a digital presence on Facebook under Utusan Online, and a website.

Utusan Malaysia was first published as Utusan Melayu in Jawi script in 1939 in Singapore.

It was founded by Mr Yusof Ishak, who later became the first president of Singapore, and Mr Abdul Rahim Kajai, known as the father of Malay journalism.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2020, with the headline Utusan Malaysia returns under new owner. Subscribe