High Court judge Nadzarin Wok Nordin ruled that former employees of Utusan Malaysia, its subsidiaries and related companies involved in the voluntary separation scheme (VSS) were legally the beneficiaries of the news outlet’s trust properties. As trustees, the employees have the right to be paid ahead of the creditors and will receive their overdue funds outside of the liquidation process.
There were only eight payments made by Utusan Malaysia to staff who took the VSS before a creditors' voluntary liquidation exercise on October 7, 2019. The scheme required a total of 12 payments over 12 months, with the payments to be made to the new trustees after statutory deductions, debt owing, and other official processes were completed. The total owed was found to be nearly MYR 60,000,000, approximately USD 12,500,000.
Utusan Malaysia ceased operations on October 9, 2019 after long-term financial instability. The news outlet first began operating in 1939, with its first publication in its final format in 1967.
NUJM said: “The National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia (NUJM) reiterates the High Court ruling over the Utusan Melayu VSS case […] NUJM, therefore, urges the entrusted liquidators to ensure that the workers involved in the VSS receive their compensation as soon as possible.
The IFJ said: “Journalists and media workers should not go without severance pay. Former media workers of Utusan Malaysia are entitled to their unpaid compensation. The IFJ urges those in charge of Utusan Malaysia’s estate to ensure that all parties resolve the outstanding payment as soon as possible.”