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Former Utusan Malaysia employees saddened, at a loss over abrupt closure

Last update: 11/10/2019
Staff members of Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad react while reading the cease of operations notice. The company is the publisher for Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 -- Reporter of all publications under the Utusan Group - Utusan Malaysia, Mingguan Malaysia, Kosmo! and Kosmo! Ahad - woke up this morning at a loss, not knowing what to do after company decided to cease operations effective Wednesday.

Journalist Muhammad Basir Abu Bakar, 40, who served the newspaper for 15 years, said he felt like he was in slumber since every morning he would be ready to go to assignment as instructed by the editor.

“I usually wake up to check my WhatsApp messages which would be full of event invitations, but today I realise it's all gone.

“Yesterday I was busy organising the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) press conference on the operations of the company and distributing food assistance to other staff members. It did not feel very sad, but this morning I woke up and teared up thinking about the fate of Utusan Malaysia,” he told Bernama.

Muhammad Basir said he and his wife would be looking for a new job and started a small business selling car perfume and squid eggs.

“When I returned home, my children asked why my office was closed? They cried and I couldn’t say anything,” he said.

Kosmo! journalist who wanted only to be known as Kamal said his wife was saddened by what had happened since Kamal was the sole breadwinner for the family.

“She cried a lot. She is also pregnant and the baby could be due anytime now. Thank God for the little savings. Before I could look for another job, I need to take a short break to focus on my wife and our unborn baby,” he said.

In PUTRAJAYA, Utusan Malaysia bureau correspondent since 2010, Hakimi Ismail said he and his colleagues were shocked after being informed of the situation at short notice, causing panic among them.

Hakimi, 32, said the as the head of the family, the situation was indeed tough for him as he had to shoulder the responsibility in providing the needs of his two children, aged 5 and 2.

“There are many payments that need to be settled, including outstanding bills. We have yet to receive our September salary and we are grateful that Utusan wants to pay the October salary in full as well,” he said.

Despite the shortcomings, Hakimi chooses to remain positive and believes that there are vacant posts to be filled out there.

“Allah’s provisions are in great abundance and He is the best of planners,” he said.

Another Utusan Malaysia correspondent at the Putrajaya Bureau Diana Azis, who was covering a tourism forum in South Korea, received word of the termination of the company's operations via a memo shared over WhatsApp.

“I was prepared to deal with this situation. I think I can manage up to the end of the year, but at the same time I will look for another job opportunity,” she said, who tied the knot in December last year.

Diana, 33, who left for South Korea last Tuesday and is expected to return home next Monday, however, expressed concern over the age factor that may make it difficult for her to get another job.

Juani Munir Abu Bakar, 32, who is currently studying at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said he would need to plan his budget wisely as he expects to complete his studies by 2021.

A graduate of the Syariah Bachelor of Law (Usul Fiqh) University of Malaya, said he signed up for the Postgraduate Diploma in Islamic Justice and Legal Administration (DAIJ) course at UKM as his long term plan to become a Syariah lawyer, judge or prosecutor.

Juani, who had been with Utusan Malaysia since 2010, was the writer of the front-page story of the last edition of the newspaper published yesterday.

In KOTA BHARU, journalist Mohd Zaain Zin, 35, described the company's closure order as “losing the means to earn a living”. He is still reeling from the loss.

“My mother’s face comes to mind. My mother, Siti Meriam Awang, 76 is suffering from old age. My worry is that I won’t be able to provide her with the things she needs. I pray things will look up for me and my Utusan colleagues,” he told Bernama.

Mohd Zaain said he also needed to think about how to set aside RM2,500 a month to pay for his house, a car he bought last year, and that he might have to postpone his wedding plans in the near future.

Former clerk of the company, Hanifah Hamzah, 46, said the closure of Utusan was a big blow for her who had worked for more than 23 years in the company, not to mention that her husband had also been out of job for the past two years due to the country's economic uncertainty.

“I can’t hold back the tears thinking about what had happened after working for the company for so long. Utusan had been the source of income to feed my family. I hope Utusan doesn’t end here. It had done so much for me and I had had so many fond memories here,” said the mother of four children, all of whom are still in school.

In SEREMBAN, photographer Azrul Edham Mohd Aminuddin, 35, said he had not yet decided to look for a new job as no final decision had been given by the company on his employment status.

“I will wait for the official letter to be issued on Oct 30 whether to continue the service or otherwise before making any decision," he told Bernama here today.

If things don’t go as planned, armed with vast experience and a camera, the father of two children plans to become a freelance photographer for events and weddings.

Meanwhile, administrative assistant Nur Ashura Abdul Majid, 25, said she was trying to find a new job to cover her daily expenses and her mother, who was under her care.

She is unable to give her mother money every month as she often did and said job uncertainties were wearing her down.

“I will try to get a job, no matter what,” she vowed.

The company, which was established 80 years ago, ceased its operations due to financial problems yesterday, with its employees told to pack up and leave the premises within a short notice.

Utusan executive chairman Datuk Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir yesterday issued a memorandum saying the company would cease operations on Oct 9 while the last day of service for workers is Oct 31.

The curtain fell on Utusan after Aurora Mulia Sdn Bhd, a company linked to business tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, acquired 70 per cent of the company's wholly-owned subsidiary Dilof Sdn Bhd.

-- BERNAMA





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