National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Utusan branch chairman Mohd Taufek Abdul Razak says workers were only informed that Utusan would be closed if a settlement on the matter of unpaid staff salaries could not be reached. -NSTP/Mohd Khairul Helmy Mohd Din

KUALA LUMPUR: News of the so-called closure of Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo newspapers by Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd on Wednesday is just hearsay and not based on an official announcement.

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Utusan branch chairman Mohd Taufek Abdul Razak said based on discussions with Utusan executive chairman Datuk Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir, workers were only informed that Utusan would be closed if a settlement on the matter of unpaid staff salaries could not be reached.

“We were informed that if there is no way out, Utusan will close down but Abd Aziz did not mention any date concerning the matter. We only heard about the Wednesday closure through word-of mouth from colleagues,” he told Bernama, adding that he was unaware of the outcome of the Utusan’s board meeting held this evening.

However, he said, staff had been informed that a briefing would be held with Abd Aziz at 4pm tomorrow.

About 100 Utusan Melayu workers held a protest today outside its headquarters, demanding to be paid salary arrears of between two and three months.

He said Abd Aziz had also informed them that Utusan "does not have the money to pay the salary arrears and future salaries, and that the company has also been unable to dispose of its assets".

Meanwhile, in Seremban, Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Jalaluddin Alias proposed that a special fund be established to assist Utusan Malaysia workers.

The Jelebu MP said it was estimated that about 800 workers would be affected by the financial crisis afflicting the company.

"The news about the financial crisis affecting Utusan Malaysia is sad not just for media practitioners but also society in general," he said. -- Bernama