Utusan goes for Star’s neck

By Reina

Utusan Malaysia and The Star are old friends. The two papers have ganged up against the newspapers in the NSTP stable since the stone ages – swapping stories and photos, making sure NSTP newspapers do not scoop them, etc.

But it looks like this rosy relationship is about to change when Utusan published a commentary entitled ‘Cara halus akhbar Inggeris main isu perkauman’ (An English newspaper’s subtle way of playing up race issue) in Friday’s Utusan Malaysia.

(See below for the English translation of this article.)

The commentary, said to be written by a certain former minister, accuses “a certain English newspaper” of using third parties like opposition leaders and the Bar Council to criticize articles in Utusan that are deemed to have strong racial undertones. The writer zeroes in on The Star’s comment piece on the cow head protest written by the English newspaper’s editor-in-chief.

Utusan is obviously referring to The Star because the MCA ownership was mentioned and The Star is the only English daily owned by the party.

It is not clear what the motives are and why Utusan would put an old relationship at risk. Although the paper has been long regarded as the mouthpiece of the Umno leadership, it is not clear if the decision to run the criticism against The Star was made by certain individuals in the editorial or if higher forces were behind it.

Is Utusan gunning for The Star, or is there a hidden agenda?

Could it be that theories of an UMNO agenda to abandon its non-Bumi partners in the BN and go it alone on the Ketuanan Melayu platform are true? It would certainly seem like it with the MCA & MIC openly falling out with the UMNO big shots. But, we do not know for sure at this time.

What we do know for sure is that with this unprecedented Utusan attack on The Star points to further unravelling of traditional political ties at some level.

This view is certainly strengthened by the MCA’s statement about the state of media freedom in the nation: