|Type Daily newspaper|
Owner(s) The Utusan Group
Editor Mohd Hassan Mohd. Noor
Founder(s) Yusof Ishak
Editor-in-chief Abdul Aziz Ishak
Utusan Malaysia (literally translated from Malay to English as "The Malaysian Courier") is a Malay-language newspaper published in Malaysia. Distinctive for its blue masthead as its logo and trademark, Utusan Malaysia was first published in Jawi in 1939. Utusan Malaysia became an influential medium for the people to voice out their opinions towards the ruling of the British Government in Malaya.
Utusan Malaysia traces its roots to 1939 when it was first published as Utusan Melayu, with its address at Queen Street, Singapore. It was founded by Yusof Ishak, who later became the first President of Singapore, and Abdul Rahim Kajai, dubbed the father of Malay journalism. It temporarily suspended publication during the Japanese occupation of Malaya and Singapore. The newspaper moved its headquarters to Cecil Street in 1945, and in 1959 relocated to Kuala Lumpur.
In 1961 its workers staged a strike against the newspaper's impending takeover by the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), amid concerns over Utusan's independence. The acquisition took place despite the protests, and Utusan Malaysia has been the unofficial party organ for UMNO ever since.
Utusan Malaysia started publication on 1 September 1967, being a romanised version for Utusan Melayu and daily edition of Mingguan Malaysia. Mingguan Malaysia published 2 years earlier, on 30 August 1964.
In 1997, the Group made its entry into the world of multimedia with the launch of "Utusan Malaysia On-Line", Malaysia's first Online Newspaper in full text and visuals. The service provided, in collaboration with Telekom Malaysia, enables pay-subscribers to read exact replicas of the Group's newspapers, including Utusan Malaysia. On 2 July 2001, "Utusan Education Portal" (Portal Pendidikan Utusan) was launched. The free service has received recognition from MIMOS (the "Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems") as one of the top five education websites in Malaysia in 2001.
A new seven-storey high office building was erected in 2010, opposite the existing headquarters. It was built on the former site of a car park for its staff. The official move to the new Kumpulan Utusan premises took place in 2013.
Distinctive for its blue masthead as its logo and trademark, Utusan Malaysia has over 32 pages of news and current affairs, with regular supplements, focusing on such diverse topics as entertainment, fashion, music, health, technology, and politics. It is Malaysia's only broadsheet newspaper in a national language.
Mingguan Malaysia, Utusan's weekend edition, has a red masthead. Sections such as Pancawarna and Pancaindera (entertainment section) are published in tabloid size, rather than broadsheet.
Utusan Malaysia's circulation peaked at 350,000 copies a day in the 1990s and it was one of the largest selling newspapers in Malaysia. Circulation had declined by about 250,000 in 2004 and further down to 144,438 copies in first half of 2016. Mingguan Malaysia, the Sunday edition of Utusan Malaysia, have a circulation of 313,495 on first half of 2016, which make it the most popular newspaper in the National language, the only paper which surpass the print circulation of Mingguan Malaysia is Sin Chew Daily, a Chinese language newspaper.
Utusan has stoked racist sentiments with provocative headlines championing the Dasar Ekonomi Baru and Ketuanan Melayu.
Similarly, just one day after the 2013 general elections, in which the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered its worst-ever results, Utusan published a highly racist feature article with the headline "Apa lagi Cina mahu?" ("What else do the Chinese want?") accusing Chinese Malaysians of trying to overthrow the Malay-dominated government and labelling them "ungrateful". Third-party analysts have noted that the massive electoral swing could be attributed to urban votes of all races deserting the ruling coalition wholesale, rather than pinpointed to any particular race. Despite Prime Minister Najib Razak's defence of the newspaper, Utusan earned widespread condemnation from Malaysians for its unapologetic race-baiting.
In view of Utusan's extreme racist rhetoric, the former Opposition-led Perak state government staged a boycott against the newspaper, with other Opposition states following suit. A motion was also set by the Selangor state government to boycott Utusan while all Selangor state agencies and departments were told to refrain from buying and advertising in the newspaper, in a move to protest a short story titled "Politik Baru YB J" by columnist Datuk Chamil Wariya that appeared in the paper which mentioned the assassination of a fictional character resembling Democratic Action Party assemblywoman Teresa Kok.
Utusan has also been criticised for publishing very little international news; the Foreign News section typically consists of only two to three pages out of 50 pages in total.
Statements by Chief Ministers in Opposition-held states have been taken out of context, manipulated, or otherwise downright fabricated.
In January 2011, the newspaper suspended a senior journalist, Hata Wahari, president of the National Union of Journalists, after alleging that Hata had brought the newspaper into disrepute and "insulted" its management. Hata was later dismissed from the Utusan group in May of that year.
On 20 May 2013, Hata staged a one-man protest in front of the Utusan Melayu headquarters, calling for an end to "irresponsible journalism" and "racist reporting". He was consequently jeered and labelled a "communist" by the Utusan staff gathered there, who also hurled two packets of fried bihun at him.
The widely perceived view that Utusan Malaysia is nothing more than a propaganda newsletter for the ruling government has been given much greater credence after its deputy chief editor Zaini Hassan openly stated in a forum organised by the National Civics Bureau that it was acceptable for Utusan to "spin facts" to be "biased in our [the BN Government's] favour". The Malaysiakini reporter covering the forum was later barred from attending.
Utusan offered an apology after running news of an 87-year-old Catholic missionary in Java who purportedly converted to Islam after recovering from a coma. It later turned out that the article was sourced from a fictional news story on a satirical website, the World News Daily Report.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Utusan by several personalities from the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Notably, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng successfully sued for libel twice against the paper, winning RM400,000 in accumulated damages for both lawsuits.
On 14 December 2012, Karpal Singh was awarded RM50,000 in damages after a High Court judge declared that an Utusan article painting him as anti-Islam was "by all accounts mischievous".
Just over a month later, on 21 January 2013, the High Court awarded Anwar Ibrahim RM45,000 in damages after a series of Utusan articles deliberately misrepresented his statement in a BBC interview so as to suggest that the opposition leader was pro-LGBT (a controversial stance in Muslim-majority Malaysia). The paper's lawyer triggered significant uproar during proceedings when he argued that newspapers did not have the "luxury of time" to ascertain the truth of their reports.
Awards and recognition
Utusan won the "IFRA Publish Asia 2003 Award" for the "Best in Print" category on 20 March 2002. It was the first award to be won by the newspaper at the international level. In 2014, it won two awards in Johor Media Award 2014.