Utusan’s new owner, Media Mulia Sdn Bhd is linked to Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary who has significant stakes in Media Prima and Media Mulia. Media Prima, now the most prominent media conglomerate in Malaysia, owns the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) which publishes three newspapers, New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro. In addition, Media Prima controls four major TV stations, TV3, NTV7, TV9 and 8TV. Mohamad Azlan Jaafar, Media Mulia’s managing director and group editor, promised to maintain high journalism standards for all newspapers under the Media Mulia banner.
The Utusan media group closed its operations in October 2019 due to financial losses after 80 years in the market, resulting in more than 800 workers losing their jobs on short notice.
The return of Utusan is amid ongoing investigations and charges against journalists and media companies including the contempt of court trial against Malaysiakini and its chief editor Steven Gan and the investigation of Al Jazeera's current affairs show accused of breaching Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA).
The IFJ and various organisations, including its affiliate National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJM) are collaborating on a major European Union-funded Malaysian media reform project Strengthening Malaysia’s Media for Change.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ welcomes the return of Utusan and hopes this will result in a change in the media landscape in Malaysia underpinned by solidarity with journalists and freedom of expression. During the re-opening, the IFJ urges Media Mulia Sdn Bhd to re-engage the workers who were terminated when the company closed last year.”