Some ex-Utusan staff may be rehired, says Dr M

By AFIQ AZIZ & MARK RAO / Pic By RAZAK GHAZALI

UTUSAN Melayu (M) Bhd’s new owner may take in some ex-employees of the defunct media firm, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

The oldest Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia and its sister newspaper Kosmo! formally ceased operations on Wednesday due to financial difficulties, with over 800 employees told to vacate their workstations immediately.

The final day of service, or the last pay day of the staff, was set to be on Oct 31.

“The new company will take over Utusan Melayu, but as for the workers, some of them will be taken in by the new management,” he told the press after launching the International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition and Conference Malaysia (IGEM) 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

In a statement on Wednesday, Utusan Melayu said it would dispose of 70% of its equity interest in its wholly owned subsidiary Dilof Sdn Bhd to Aurora Mulia Sdn Bhd to alleviate its debt burden.

Dilof currently holds publication permits for both the group’s newspapers.

On another note, Dr Mahathir was asked if the government — through Khazanah Nasional Bhd — had received any fresh proposal to take over PLUS Malaysia Bhd.

Widad Group Bhd in a statement yesterday revealed that it has offered to buy PLUS’ concessionaires by taking over the 51% stake owned by Khazanah for a RM1.5 billion cash consideration.

Alternatively, Widad could take over 100% of the concessionaires owned by Khazanah and the Employees Provident Fund for RM3 billion cash.

The proposal was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office and Economic Affairs Ministry on Oct 9.

“There are many proposals to take over Plus, but we have to evaluate and make sure that the government money is used wisely, not just because we want to protect ourselves against certain bidders.

“So, we will evaluate properly and see if the bid is good, then we will consider,” Dr Mahathir said.