Don't victimise ordinary staff at Utusan Malaysia when Umno and managers caused losses says MP

MELAKA: It is Umno, which has used Utusan Malaysia as a political tool for decades, that should be responsible for its financial failure, rather than victimising the ordinary staff, said a parliamentarian.

Kota Melaka MP, Khoo Poay Tiong (pic), said the non-managerial staff of Utusan Malaysia should be allowed to keep their jobs while the board of directors, which was politically-appointed, and senior managers should be changed.

He said Utusan Malaysia has been used as tool by Umno for their political agenda since taking it over in 1961 and the party should be responsible for the newspaper's failure to remain financially sustainable and not victimise the ordinary staff.

"Underlings of the media organisations, namely journalists, photographers, circulation and marketing staff shouldn't be held responsible for lopsided reporting.

"It's the senior management team who should take the blame and be replaced with those having vast experience in the industry," he said in an interview on Saturday (Sept 22).

Khoo said it was unfair for the media organisation to offer Voluntary Separation Schemes (VSS) by paying out compensation on a monthly (installment) basis.

"The top management must feel for their employees' wellbeing and allow the second tier to take over and revamp its editorial content.

"Many of the newspaper staff has been serving for umpteen years and their welfare must be taken care," he said.

It was reported on Friday (Sept 21) that the media group is offering VSS to more than half of its 1,500 workers as part of its restructuring exercise to reduce overall costs.

Insiders revealed that the VSS payments would be paid on a monthly basis.

Khoo said the statement from the National Union of Journalist (NUJ) that the VSS offered by Utusan is insincere because it's done in a haste without consultation and contained unfair terms.

"It was the previous Umno regime which dictated the terms to board of directors. Editors and journalists had to adhere to their agenda.

"The new government should encourage press freedom by disallowing political parties from owning or controlling media organisations," he said.

Khoo said the Pakatan Harapan government should review laws and regulations to guarantee media freedom.

He said an independent Media Council, comprising eminent media figures, should develop and implement a code of ethics on reporting.

This will allow the media to function as a body to channel public complaints.

"Newspapers are essential to a functioning democratic system and will not simply disappear even with advent of smartphones,"he added.