Here Is Why The Country's Oldest Newspaper Utusan Malaysia May Be Shutting Down Tomorrow
Malaysia's oldest newspaper Utusan Malaysia may cease operations on Wednesday, 21 August
"Our last paper will be published on the day after tomorrow (Wednesday). On the front page, there will be a notice to inform readers that we will cease publication on Wednesday," Kosmo! editor Lokman Othman announced to its staff, as reported by New Straits Times (NST).
"This means that tomorrow (20 August) we will work for the Wednesday publication. After that, we don't have to work," he added, according to an audio clip which was provided to NST.
In addition, the editor announced the shutdown of Utusan's sister publication, Kosmo!
It is learnt that there will be a "cooling off" period after Wednesday, where two to three investors will take over Utusan Group.
However, the online editions of Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo! will continue its operations.
Staff were also told that layoffs may occur once the takeover is complete.
Loqman explained that the shutdown stems from the company's inability to pay its staff their salaries
"Even if there is income, the collection of debt from others, that collection is then used to pay to people. Especially for transportation and all," Lokman said, during the meeting, according to Malay Mail.
The news comes after hundreds of its staff, including journalists, graphic artists, and photographers, held a protest outside the company's headquarters to demand for their outstanding salaries and severance payments.
The Utusan Group, which publishes Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo!, had reportedly failed to pay salaries since June.
Eight hundred employees had accepted a voluntary separation scheme which was carried out in December 2018. However, their salaries were also delayed.
Utusan Malaysia, which was first known as Utusan Melayu, began its operations in 1939 – before Malaysia's Independence day
Meanwhile, Kosmo! was launched on 30 August 2004.
Utusan Malaysia used to be one of the largest selling newspapers in Malaysia, with a circulation of 350,000 copies a day during the 1990s.
Malay Mail reported that the Utusan Group is currently on PN17 status on the Malaysian Stock Exchange after failing to pay an outstanding debt of nearly RM1.2 million to two banks.
PN17 stands for Practice Note 17/2005 and is issued by Bursa Malaysia; relating to companies that are in financial distress.
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