KUALA LUMPUR, 11 Nov: The federal government is allegedly desperate to save Utusan Malaysia, which is reportedly experiencing a decline in sales, when they ordered several government-linked companies (GLCs) to buy more ad space in the newspaper.
Member of Parliament for Bayan Baru, Sim Tze Tzin, said that the move was also in line with the ‘call’ by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to ask more GSCs to advertise their products in the Barisan Nasional (BN) owned newspaper.
He said that Utusan Malaysia is also facing financial problems and is seen as become more vulnerable after the newspaper received a lot of lawsuits from various quarters, including politicians, on their news reports.
“Utusan Malaysia has suffered a lot of losses when they were forced to pay hundreds of thousands of ringgit in damages and is also facing other cases in court for previous publications of their articles.
“All of these things affect the financial position of Utusan Malaysia, thus clearly demonstrating the central government’s directive to GLCs to buy ads is to save the newspaper,” he said in a press conference here at the Parliament lobby today.
He said that the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Ahmad Maslan, is also considered to be confused with his role as deputy minister and Umno information chief when he urged the GLCs to buy more ads in the newspaper.
He said that Ahmad should place the interests of all Malaysians when performing his duty, and to not just protect the interests of Umno, which uses the newspaper to spread their propaganda.
“GLCs also need to be more independent and careful, as well as professional, before investing on an ad, whether in Utusan or other newspapers. They should not bow to political pressure to do something that is contrary to the principles of business because the GLC mandate is to protect national interests, not the interests of Umno,” he said.
Previously, Ahmad reportedly wrote to the highest leader of GLCs to spend their advertising budget in the Malay-language newspapers owned by Umno; Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian.
He said that the 3.7 percent expenditure from 35 major GLCs for their advertising budget in Malaysia is too little compared to “Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian’s struggle for the country”, however MCA criticised the directive.