Utusan warns Nazri against questioning its credentials

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, The Malaysian Insider

Utusan Malaysia continued its diatribe against Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz today, claiming that his criticisms against the Umno-owned daily had been “unfounded” and unbecoming of a Umno minister.

In its weekend edition Mingguan Malaysia, columnist Awang Selamat slammed Nazri for questioning the daily’s agenda and for pointing out that Utusan’s readership circulation had dwindled over recent years while online news portals were attracting more readership.

The columnist, whose pseudonym is used by Utusan editors, maintained that Utusan was a “Malay institution,” and that the paper’s agenda was in the interest of the country’s national interests, dismissing Nazri’s recent allegations that the daily had become “racist” in its reporting.

“If he (Nazri) is not pro-Utusan, the paper which has served the country faithfully, it is fine. But as an Umno minister, he should know how Utusan faces its own challenges and limitations. Even so, Utusan has never wavered in defending the Constitution, rejecting extremism and supporting peace,” said the columnist.

Awang went on to state that it was “illogical” for anyone, let alone Nazri to accuse Utusan of being racist because it was “representing the voice of the Malays” who have been “tolerant” for a long time.

“There are other forms of racist media especially the Chinese papers and online portals, how come these aren’t criticised? Why must there be a difference between judging a Malay newspaper and a Chinese newspaper?

“In whatever situation or form- Utusan has always been in the forefront defending Umno and the Malays. So do not belittle Utusan like how the non-Malays have been systematically doing so. Utusan is not just a newspaper, it is a Malay institution. Utusan’s KPI (key performace index) is not just about circulation numbers.

“Even before independence, this newspaper has never run away from its responsibility in protecting the official religion, race and interests of the country.

“Is that a problem to Nazri or anyone else?” asked the Utusan columnist.

Nazri, who is currently Minister in the Prime Minister’s department had written a letter to The Malaysian Insider last week to rebut Utusan columnist Awang Selamat’s comments on him in an article titled “Alahai Nazri…” which was published in the Malay daily weekend publication Mingguan Malaysia.

Nazri, in his open letter last Monday accused the columnist of undermining the 1 Malaysia policy of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak by continuously supporting the viewpoints of Malay rights group Perkasa.

Nazri had also accused Utusan of backing former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed instead of Najib.

Dr Mahathir has been a strident critic of the Najib administration, and has pushed for an indefinite continuation of affirmative action policies, halting Najib’s attempts to implement his 1 Malaysia concept of plurality and equality.

Today, Utusan stressed that there was nothing wrong with being “respectful” of Dr Mahathir and being “courteous” of Perkasa.