KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — Almost a month after newspaper Utusan Malaysia’s abrupt closure on October 6, its former employees are still waiting for their compensation and overdue salaries.
Several of them told Malay Mail that they have not received further details from UHY Advisory (KL) Sdn Bhd, the interim management company in charge of the liquidation process.
“We had a session with UHY on October 30, but they did not provide any information about the compensation.
“They only explained that as an interim liquidator, their responsibility is to manage the asset liquidation of the company,” said a former employee who declined to be named.
Another former employee added that chances of their being employed by the yet-to-be-announced new newspaper are slim as only about 60 out of more than 800 former employees will be offered a place there.
“And it is not going to be senior journalists they pick either if they want to cut costs.
“They might even get fresh graduates to fill some of the slots as it will be cheaper,” a source added.
Another former staff member who exited during the Volunteer Separation Scheme (VSS) exercise last November also said they have yet to get their full compensation and have not been able to get an explanation from both the former and current management.
The former journalist also expressed disappointment with Utusan Malaysia’s Executive Chairman Datuk Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir for “being MIA” (missing in action).
“We have more than 1,500 people now waiting for answers.
“If they (top management) can’t even meet us to answer the questions we have, then yes, we might not get what we are owed,” he added.
Last week, National Union of Journalists’ Utusan branch chairman Mohd Taufek Razak said they might appoint a lawyer to oversee the liquidation process and are mulling legal action if the issue is not resolved.
“We are very worried… the compensation and overdue salary payments are important to the former staff.
“We were briefed that Utusan has to pay RM400 million in debts, but assets are only valued at RM350 million,” he told journalists after the meeting last week.
On October 22, the Ministry of Human Resources told the newspaper’s publisher Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd — which ceased operations on October 9 — and its interim liquidator UHY Advisory (KL) Sdn Bhd to pay its employees their outstanding wages, as well as the VSS compensation owed from last year.
Despite several attempts, Malay Mail could not reach Aziz or UHY for comments.