A time when Utusan Malaysia didn’t get away with everything…


Abdullah Badawi implies such Utusan Malaysia headlines as these would not have been tolerated by him. 

(The Malaysian Insider) – In a book about his years in power, former prime minister Tun Abdullah Badawi makes a startling revelation about how he dealt with Utusan Malaysia, in stark contrast to how the strident newspaper is managed by its Umno backers now.

Abdullah was known for liberalising news media in an attempt to restore their credibility after the severe damage that mainstream media took under the Mahathir years, but Abdullah still kept a firm line on racial and religious issues.

Referring to his appointees, he said, “I did not interfere with their work as I believed that they had a professional job to do and I allowed them the space to do it. But when they abused the openness by playing up racial and religious issues, like when Utusan Malaysia did, then I would call them and warn them.”

He revealed that he made a phone call to the editor-in-chief of Utusan Malaysia and left him with a stark warning: the newspaper had crossed the boundary with an editorial that smacked of racism and he should expect no favours from Putrajaya if charged with sedition.

As it turned out, the police did not come a-calling and the editor escaped any sanction. But Abdullah said that phone call put the fear of God into the newspaperman and, after that, there were no more offensive articles from the Umno-owned paper.

Such control apparently no longer exists over the newspaper that has since lost a bunch of defamation cases to opposition members and has even been ticked off in the courtroom for not following journalistic standards.

In reply to a question from the editors of the book on how much control Umno has over Utusan Malaysia now, the former leader replied, “Now, I don’t think there’s any control anymore.”

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/a-time-when-utusan-malaysia-didnt-get-away-with-everything-.-