MP retracts 'Utusan's demise Harapan's greatest achievement' remark

Modified 20 Aug 2019, 9:53 am

A DAP lawmaker has retracted his earlier remark hailing the demise of Malay language newspaper Utusan Malaysia.

In a statement, RSN Rayer had said: "I think the demise of Utusan would be Pakatan Harapan's greatest achievement as we seek (to) bury racism in this country and celebrate 62 years of independence."

However, in an updated statement two hours later, the Jelutong MP retracted that particular paragraph.

When contacted, Rayer explained the statement was amended because it was circulated to the media before he could check its contents.

"Just now, the copy (was) sent out before I could check.

"I just came back from my court work. I check with my office, they had already sent it out. She (my aide) was supposed to hold it but she sent it out," he told Malaysiakini.

Rayer's amendment came in the wake of complaints from some members of the press but the MP denied that he was pressured to make the changes.

"Nothing, no pressure," he said.

The initial version of the statement, which was uploaded on Rayer's Facebook page, has yet to be deleted at the time of writing. Of the 120 reactions it had garnered so far, 68 were "angry" emoticons.

'What goes around, comes around'

Rayer, in his statement, had noted that Utusan had after the 13th general election published the inflammatory headline "Apa lagi Cina mahu?" (What more do the Chinese want) when the then ruling coalition BN performed poorly among Chinese voters.

"The saying 'what goes around comes around' would apply aptly to Utusan in this regard," he said, adding that the newspaper had previously targeted the then opposition.

He said the newspaper had not contributed to nation-building and spewed racism, hate, divisive politics and bigotry in its prime.

However, the plight of the workers was not lost on the lawmaker.

"I do sympathise with its employees who now face a future of uncertainty and I wish that the Harapan government would be able to assist all employees by offering them alternative employment in respective government departments as these employees have families to support.

"I also firmly believe that these employees are blameless as it was their top bosses and editors who were calling the shots under Umno," he added.

Last year, Rayer had courted flak when he called for TV3 to be shut down, two days after Harapan captured federal power.

"It is compulsory for TV3's broadcast licence to be immediately revoked by Harapan as they are inciters (penghasut)," he had said.

DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang later said Rayer's position was neither DAP nor Harapan's policy. He claimed that Rayer was only venting his personal frustration.

Utusan was considered to be a mouthpiece for the previous ruling party Umno, but the cash-strapped party sold its shares in the daily earlier this year.

Umno has been struggling financially after it lost power in the 14th general election and had its funds frozen on the grounds that they were stolen from state-owned 1MDB.

The party sold its 31.61 percent stake in February to former Kulim Bandar Baharu MP Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir for RM6.65 million, representing a 65.2 percent premium.

Yesterday, Utusan Group staff picketed to demand up to three months of unpaid salaries.

They have also been informed that the group's newspapers Utusan and Kosmo would cease publication tomorrow.

Additional reporting by Zikri Kamarulzaman

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