|Political alignment||Pro- government, Right-wing|
|Headquarters||46M, Jalan Lima off Jalan Chan Sow Lin, 55200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (as of 2005).|
|Circulation||178,000 - year 2013
256,247 - year 2004
*Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations
|Official website||Utusan Online|
Utusan Malaysia (literally translated from Malay to English as the "Malaysian Courier") (another sister newspaper known as Utusan Melayu published in Jawi script ceased publication in January 2006) is a Malay language newspaper in Malaysia. It serves as the unofficial mouthpiece of the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which owns it.
Utusan Malaysia traces its roots to 1939 when it was first published as Utusan Melayu, with its address at Queen Street, Singapore. One of its founders was Abdul Rahim Kajai, dubbed the father of Malay journalism. It temporarily suspended publication during the Japanese occupation of Malaya and Singapore. The newspaper moved its headquarters to Cecil Street in 1945, and in 1959 relocated to Kuala Lumpur.
In 1961 its workers staged a strike against the newspaper's impending takeover by the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), amid concerns over Utusan's independence. The acquisition took place despite the protests, and Utusan Malaysia has been the unofficial party organ for UMNO ever since.
Utusan Malaysia started publication on 1 September 1967, being a romanised version for Utusan Melayu and daily edition of Mingguan Malaysia. Mingguan Malaysia published 2 years earlier, on 30 August 1964.
In 1997, the Group made its entry into the world of multimedia with the launch of "Utusan Malaysia On-Line", Malaysia's first Online Newspaper in full text and visuals. The service provided, in collaboration with Telekom Malaysia, enables pay-subscribers to read exact replicas of the Group's newspapers, including Utusan Malaysia. On July 2, 2001, "Utusan Education Portal" (Portal Pendidikan Utusan) was launched. The free service has received recognition from MIMOS (the "Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems") as one of the top five education websites in Malaysia in 2001. Utusan had also won the "IFRA Publish Asia 2003 Award" for the "Best in Print" category on March 20, 2002. It was the first award to be won by the newspaper at the international level.
Distinctive for its blue masthead as its logo and trademark, Utusan Malaysia has over 32 pages of news and current affairs, with regular supplements, focusing on such diverse topics as entertainment, fashion, music, health, technology, and politics. After Berita Harian, another main Malay newspaper changed from broadsheet to tabloid in 2008, it is Malaysia's only broadsheet newspaper in a national language.
Meanwhile, Mingguan Malaysia was known for its red masthead. Sections such as Pancawarna and Pancaindera (entertainment section) had been published in tabloid size, rather than broadsheet.
Utusan Malaysia's circulation was peaked at 350,000 copies a day in the 1990s and it was one of the largest selling newspapers in Malaysia. Circulation had declined by about 170,000 copies in 2010, however, there is a slight increase of 178,000 copies a day in 2012. By comparison, Harian Metro is Malaysia's highest-selling daily newspaper in the national language, with average half million copies sold daily.
Utusan Malaysia's credibility as a newspaper has come under fire from many circles for its blatant practice of double standards in its reporting, especially with regard to politically related news. Statements by Chief Ministers in Opposition-held states have been taken out of context, manipulated, or otherwise downright fabricated.
Similarly, just one day after the 2013 general elections, in which the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered its worst-ever results, Utusan published a highly racist feature article with the headline "Apa lagi Cina mahu?" ("What else do the Chinese want?") accusing Chinese Malaysians of trying to overthrow the Malay-dominated government and labelling them "ungrateful". Third-party analysts have noted that the massive electoral swing could be attributed to urban votes of all races deserting the ruling coalition wholesale, rather than pinpointed to any particular race. Despite Prime Minister Najib Razak's defence of the newspaper, Utusan earned widespread condemnation from Malaysians for its unapologetic race-baiting.
In view of Utusan's extreme racist rhetoric, the former Opposition-led Perak state government staged a boycott against the newspaper, with other Opposition states following suit. A motion was also set by the Selangor state government to boycott Utusan while all Selangor state agencies and departments were told to refrain from buying and advertising in the newspaper, in a move to protest a short story titled "Politik Baru YB J" by columnist Datuk Chamil Wariya that appeared in the paper which mentioned the assassination of a fictional character resembling Democratic Action Party assemblywoman Teresa Kok.
Utusan has also been criticised for publishing very little international news; the Foreign News section typically consists of only two to three pages out of 50 pages in total.
In January 2011, the newspaper suspended a senior journalist, Hata Wahari, president of the National Union of Journalists, after alleging that Hata had brought the newspaper into disrepute and "insulted" its management. Hata was later dismissed from the Utusan group in May of that year.
On 20 May 2013, Hata staged a one-man protest in front of the Utusan Melayu headquarters, calling for an end to "irresponsible journalism" and "racist reporting". He was consequently jeered and labelled a "communist" by the Utusan staff gathered there, who also hurled two packets of fried bihun at him.
The widely perceived view that Utusan Malaysia is nothing more than a propaganda newsletter for the ruling government has been given much greater credence after its deputy chief editor Zaini Hassan openly stated in a forum organised by the National Civics Bureau that it was acceptable for Utusan to "spin facts" to be "biased in our [the BN Government's] favour". The Malaysiakini reporter covering the forum was later barred from attending.
Because of its grossly distorted and outright defamatory reporting, numerous lawsuits have been filed against Utusan by several personalities from the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Notably, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng successfully sued for libel twice against the paper, winning RM400,000 in accumulated damages for both lawsuits.
Just over a month later, on 21 January 2013, the High Court awarded Anwar Ibrahim RM45,000 in damages after a series of Utusan articles deliberately misrepresented his statement in a BBC interview so as to suggest that the opposition leader was pro-LGBT (a controversial stance in Muslim-majority Malaysia). The paper's lawyer triggered significant uproar during proceedings when he argued that newspapers did not have the "luxury of time" to ascertain the truth of their reports.
In a particularly damning judgment which took two hours to read, Justice VT Singham stated, among others, that the defendants had failed in their professional duty as journalists, in addition to disregarding a golden opportunity to correct itself [sic] after Anwar had sent a legal notice asking for clarification. “The articles ... are rather a distorted and incorrect version and obviously taken out of context", he added.
- Other Malay language newspapers in Malaysia:
- P, Ramani (11 November 2013). "Bailout for Utusan Malaysia?". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- Utusan Malaysia in the Malay Wikipedia
- Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of Penang clarifies matters on youtube.com
- Ketuanan Melayu tercabar - Kaum lain lebih dominan dari segi politik, ekonomi – Tengku Faris (Malay) (Crown Prince of Kelantan: "Malay supremacy challenged" at Utusan.com.my)
- Persoal pemimpin Melayu tolak DEB (Malay)
- Bangkitlah Melayu (Malay) - "Orang Melayu perlu bangkit dan bersatu dalam berhadapan dengan tuntutan kaum lain yang kini dilihat semakin keterlaluan. Mereka juga perlu sedar dan insaf dengan situasi politik semasa yang menyaksikan pelbagai tuntutan hingga boleh menjejaskan kekuatan politik orang Melayu. Sehubungan itu, orang Melayu diminta tidak tunduk kepada tuntutan keterlaluan tersebut sebalik bangkit bersatu bagi mempertahankan hak dan kepentingan mereka."
- "Apa lagi orang Cina mahu?"
- GE13 an urban, not Chinese, swing, say analysts
- Motion for Selangor govt bodies to boycott Utusan
- NUJ president suspended from Utusan
- 'Flying bihun' greets lone protester at Utusan HQ
- Utusan editor: Spinning to attack opposition is okay
- Guan Eng wins suit against Utusan
- Guan Eng wins second defamation suit against Utusan
- Court finds Utusan article 'mischievous', awards Karpal RM50K
- Utusan lawyer: Newspapers lack ‘luxury of time’ to vet truth
- High Court rules in favour of Anwar in defamation case against Utusan
- Utusan defamed Anwar over LGBT remarks
- Anwar wins defamation suit against Utusan
- Anwar wins suit against Utusan, court rules articles 'distorted'