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Utusan editor urges paper to repent, have guts to criticise owner

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A senior editor of Utusan Malaysia has said that the Umno mouthpiece must repent to ensure its survival.

Its deputy chief editor Mohd Zaini Hassan, who has served the daily for 30 years, said Utusan had been wrong all along.

"By right, as a newspaper, it should be neutral although it was owned by a political party which had been in power for more than 60 years," he said in a column that was published in the daily yesterday.

This came after an Utusan editorial accused former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak of lying about the about the multi-billion ringgit “donation" in his personal bank account.

Mohd Zaini said Utusan should be courageous enough to criticise its owner and the current administration.

He said the daily should change in order to survive.

"If the world says it is dirty and you say it is clean, then Utusan will be destroyed," he said.

"Repent, Utusan. There is still light at the end of the tunnel, although many have said, 'Dah lambat, bro (Too late, bro)'," he said.

"This is because I am confident that if we were to ask Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he would say don't let Utusan die. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng himself said Utusan is historical and it should be allowed to continue surviving," he said.

Mohd Zaini, who will leave the daily by the end of this month, said Utusan should revive the journalistic fundamentals that the daily had championed in its early years.

"If Utusan feels that Umno is going to die, then (we should) urge the Malays to stay with the strong branch instead of the fragile one which has been eaten by termites," he added.

"It is not wrong for us to migrate to a well-built ship instead of a broken ship," he said.

Utusan reportedly offered some 800 of its 1,500 employees a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) in September, as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

The group's annual report stated that its total liabilities stood at RM328.17 million as of Dec 31 last year, up from RM302.2 million in 2016.

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