MALAY party Umno should apologise for the sorry state of Utusan Malaysia today, said Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali.
He told The Malaysian Insight there was no need for Utusan Malaysia to apologise to all Malaysians for publishing news about the Malay agenda and Islam, adding that the Malay daily was only fulfilling its agenda by publishing news about the race and religion.
“Why should Aziz apologise? There is not need for the management, general staff and editorial personnel to apologise for carrying news about the Malays and their needs.”
Syed Hassan was commenting on Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd executive director Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir’s apology to Malaysians for Utusan Malaysia’s mistakes when it was Umno’s mouthpiece.
“Their efforts were good in exposing the various threats faced by the Malays and Islam,” Syed Hassan told The Malaysian Insight.
“Why apologise to all Malaysians? Feeling guilty for hurting the Chinese? Feeling guilty for playing up racial issues? But why so? There are also other papers who play up racial issues,” he said.
In comments published in Utusan’s Sunday edition today, Aziz urged Malaysians to forgive the paper and pledged more balanced reporting.
“To all Malaysians, please forgive us for our past mistakes. Give us a chance to continue our newspapers by supporting and buying them.
“We now pledge to give you balanced news as a newspaper that is committed to being the people’s voice,” Aziz told Mingguan Malaysia today.
Utusan Malaysia has long been a mouthpiece for Umno, leading the charge in shaping opinion among Malays to favour the party’s stand on issues.
Often times, it has been accused of playing up race and religious issues to shore up support for Umno, and to demonise the then opposition, particularly DAP.
Syed Hassan said Utusan was vital to defend the rights of the Malays and the position of Islam.
“We regret that they are facing such difficulties. The ones who must apologise are the ones who used Utusan to serve their purposes.
“They must apologise to the Malays for failing to maintain Utusan’s status as an influential paper.
“Umno is the one which should apologise to Malays. A news source for the Malays is now gone. What will happen without Utusan?”
He also wondered why Utusan was facing problems when other Malay publications, such as Metro and Sinar Harian, were doing well.
Meanwhile, Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah) deputy chairman Kamaruzzaman Mohamad said Aziz must be lauded for apologising for Utusan’s past mistakes.
“We must laud him for having the heart to say, sorry,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
Kamaruzzaman said Utusan must be defended and be allowed to continue as an alternative media in today’s political climate.
Utusan’s financial woes came into the spotlight last year, and it has failed to pay salaries since June this year.
It is also having difficulty paying 800 staff members who left under a voluntary separation scheme – a move management believed would help the company stay afloat.
Last week, staff had picketed the company over the delay in payment of their salaries.