KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 -- About 800 Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd employees were relieved after being told by its management that the operations of the 80-year-old Bahasa Melayu newspaper, the oldest in Malaysia, would not be stopped.
Despite not being given an assurance of the date their salary arrears would be paid, they generally expressed happiness and regarded the news as giving some hope for them to continue their lives.
A worker, Haniza Hassan, 34, said that she was happy at the latest development although they were wrestling with the problem of salary.
‘’Utusan is not closing, thank god..the respite is not that much because we are still fighting with the problem of salary, but I am happy there is still a place for us to seek our livelihood..still given the chance to look for a living here,’’ she told Bernama after a Special Briefing By Utusan Melayu Executive Chairman Datuk Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir on the rumours on the closure of the company.
In the briefing, Abdul Aziz announced that the company would not close its operations and took the step to raise the price of a copy of Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo by 50 sen from Friday. Currently, Utusan Malaysia costs RM1.50 while Kosmo costs RM1.
Yesterday, hearsay had it that the Malay language newspaper, which was set up in 1939, with its first publication in Jawi, would cease operations on Wednesday.
Taufik Salimin, 30, on his part said that he was happy but his feelings were mixed because of the lack of assurance in the future of Utusan and its staff.
‘’As a staff, I only hope that the highest management can solve the problem of salary quickly because the uncertainty of being paid half our salaries is not helpful because we have to pay outstanding commitments such as car, house and others,’’ he said.
Sharing the same sentiment, Aqmar Alladad, 35, said despite being in a bitter situation, he was still thankful because he could continue working and vowed to struggle together to maintain the publications of newspapers under Utusan Melayu.
On the 50 cents increase in the cost of a copy of the Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo newspapers, most personnel thought that it was the decision of the management which had to be accepted as one of the measures to meet operational costs.
‘’If that (hike in prices) is one of the ways which can help generate the company’s income, we have to support the efforts of the management and hope society will help us by buying and subscribing to newspapers under Utusan Melayu,’’ said Nuzulsham Shamsudin, 37.