Speculation is rife that Utusan Malaysia and its sister publication Kosmo! have ceased their operations beginning today and all the workers will be served a dismissal notice by noon.
An Utusan employee said that their headquarters at Jalan Chan Sow Lin was busy yesterday evening with employees packing up their belongings following the unofficial announcement by the management.
They have been notified to come to the office at noon today to be briefed on the company's latest development.
"Workers were asked to clear the office within 48 hours. There will be an official announcement tomorrow (Wednesday).
"They will serve us a letter but for now, we are not clear when will they pay our outstanding salaries and what the compensation is like," the employee told Malaysiakini last night.
The sudden news for the employees came after Aurora Mulia Sdn Bhd, a company linked to business tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, had earlier acquired 70 percent of the company's wholly-owned subsidiary Dilof Sdn Bhd.
Over the past year, Aurora Mulia has aggressively expanded its shareholdings in Media Prima Bhd, which it now has a 31.22 percent stake.
Another employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said there's hope for the employees as there is speculation that the company will start afresh and rehire them.
Malaysiakini sighted a message circulated in Whatsapp titled Latest Speculation that says "Utusan Malaysia will settle its debts to the creditors amounting to RM230 million. Most likely, all Utusan employees will be terminated and about 60 of them will be rehired. It is unknown whether the newspaper will continue to be published in the transition period."
At present, Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad has 800 employees.
The speculation about Utusan Malaysia Berhad closing its business is not new.
In August, the National Union of Journalists Malaysia held a picket outside the Utusan headquarters, demanding outstanding salaries and severance payments for the previous three months.
Shortly after the picket, they were told that both publications would cease publication.
Subsequently, the group executive chairperson Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir announced that it would not cease operations as speculated.
Utusan Malaysia traces its roots to 1939 when it was first published as Utusan Melayu in Jawi. The romanised version of Utusan Malaysia started publication on Sept 1, 1967.