Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia has completely lost the plot with its daily extensive attacks against DAP and is the single largest hindrance to national unity

Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee

Never before in history has the DAP, a party Utusan Malaysia has previously regarded as irrelevant, become the object of obsession to the Umno-owned newspaper. In the last 3 of 4 days, the DAP made the front page of Utusan Malaysia with headlines like “Muslihat DAP”, “Guan Eng dikecam” and “Umat Islam perlu tolak DAP” on the 18, 20 and 21 December respectively.

Not only did the DAP and its leaders consistently make the frontpage, Utusan dedicated dozens of columns to DAP with titles such as “DAP perkudakan Anwar”, “DAP alat politik negara asing”, “DAP salur matlumat kepada Kuan Yew?”, “DAP gentar dengan 1Malaysia”, “DAP tiru strategi PAP”, “DAP yang sebenarnya memperalatkan 3R”, “DAP amal politik ala aparteid”, “Kebiadapan Guan Eng”, “Guan Eng semakin bersikap perkauman”, “Guan Eng perlu cermin diri” and more.

The above hasn’t taken into account the fact that for the past year, Utusan has often granted DAP leaders exclusive frontpage coverage to Karpal Singh, Teo Nie Ching and even myself, for daring to suggest that the housing discount for the wealthy bumiputeras be channelled towards helping the bumiputera poor.

In fact, if one were to conduct a search of “DAP” in Utusan on Google based on the year of publication, 2007 will return 291 results, 2008 – 876 results, 2009 – 12,400 results and 2010 will give a record 29,800 results to date.

It is most laughable when Utusan had to plead to its readers not to boycott the paper due to “political sentiments” (“Pembaca akhbar tidak boleh terikut-ikut tindakan memboikot Utusan Malaysia kerana sentimen politik…”) and blame Pakatan Rakyat for its affected business. Circulation for Utusan has plummeted drastically in recent years from 256,247 in 2004 to 213,445 in 2006 and 169,548 in 2009 or a 33.8% drop in 5 years. Profit before tax for the newspaper group has also plunged from RM21 million to RM7 million over the past 4 years.

It appears that Utusan is attempting to rationalise its loss of readership due to external factors instead of looking inwards at their incessant racial posturing, outright lies and inflammatory headlines such as “Bangkitlah Melayu” as being the main causes. In fact, based on the statistics above, there is a correlation between the rapidly increasing attacks against the DAP and the rapidly declining circulation of the newspaper.

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Hata Wahari, who himself is a Utusan journalist had demanded that Utusan Malaysia abolish editorial policies which go against “journalistic ethics” in order to tackle a severe drop in its readership circulation. He claimed that the Malay daily’s reporting was “biased” in nature, saying that positive coverage revolved around Barisan Nasional (BN) while negative reports were specifically reserved for Pakatan Rakyat (PR). He added that Utusan also does not give an opportunity for an accused to answer certain allegations by choosing not to publish it.

Even the Minister in the Prime Minister’s department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had accused Utusan of becoming “racist” in its reporting in September this year.

In fact, Utusan is a proven liar with leading opposition figures, MP for Pokok Sena, Mahfuz Omar and Tenaganita Director, Irene Fernandez, awarded RM120,000 and RM200,000 in damages respectively in defamation suits against the paper. Dozens of other defamation suits are still waiting to be disposed in the courts.

The relentless attacks on the DAP only serves to prove that DAP and Pakatan Rakyat are making major inroads in proving to the people that we are not only competent in governance, we have proven that despite having a DAP chief minister in Penang, Malays and Muslims enjoy greater rights and benefits than under a BN administration. This is due to a more caring government, which is able to fund its welfare policies through more effective and efficient administration, as well as reducing wastage and corruption through open tenders for all government projects.

I had on 1 November 2010 challenged Utusan Malaysia to an open debate on its many allegations against the “racist” DAP. Unfortunately, the editors chose not to defend their allegations with facts and figures in the open but continued to throw baseless, wild and wicked accusations against the DAP. This proves that Utusan’s cowardly agenda is to flood its readers with lies and half-truths against the DAP and Pakatan Rakyat for it has no ability or courage to withstand impartial public scrutiny.

The Prime Minister, despite his call for “moderation” in reporting, has failed to reign in his party’s newspaper and his 1Malaysia policy will only fail as a result of Utusan’s extremist and racist reporting.