Sunday, May 26, 2013

Utusan Malaysia’s dastardly campaign against Air Asia

Media Statement by M. Kula Segaran , DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh on May 26, 2013

Utusan Malaysia’s  dastardly campaign against Air Asia

Utusan Malaysia, Umno’s favorite pet poodle, is on the war path against budget carrier Air Asia for reason of a rebuke aimed at its jaundiced reporting that was delivered by the airline’s CEO, Azran Rani Osman.

Azran had the courage to publicly chastise Utusan for what many members of the public view as the paper’s racially inflammatory editorials.

Utusan Malaysia, a right-wing newspaper, is said to enjoy wide circulation among Malays in the rural areas. And it is also the must-read paper in Federal Government departments.

Although its actual circulation figures are suspect – there being reason to doubt the veracity of the paper’s claims in its behalf – the paper suffers no deficit in terms of advertising revenue, being the generous recipient of ads placed by the Federal Government in respect of job recruitment and public announcements.

Air Asia's CEO Azran Osman Rani had spoken out against Utusan for its racially provocative journalism, a feature much in evidence before GE13 and in heightened supply even after the polls where Umno-BN suffered stinging rebuffs from urban voters.

One would have thought that the paper would be chastened by the detailed results of the elections.

Fat hope; the paper has become even more rabid in its reportage after the general election. This is reflected in its insolent demand that Azran apologize to it for his criticisms of its editorial stance.  Failure to do so would be on pain of a boycott of Air Asia through the paper’s refusal to run the airline’s marketing ads with consequent adverse effects to the budget carrier’s sales volume.

Just days ago,  an ex-journalist of Utusan, Hatta Wahiri, a former president of the National Union of Jiurnalists, while carrying out a one-man protest outside the paper’s premises in Kuala Lumpur, was met with hurled ‘bee hoon’ and mineral water bottles.

So much for respect for freedom of expression from a newspaper which from its inception in Singapore in 1939 campaigned for the right in the days when the British colonial authority were stinting in its grant of that right!

Air Asia is a successful low cost carrier that employs thousands of Malaysians and is worth billions of ringgit. It is now being bullied by the mouthpiece of UMNO.

Air Asia was built from scratch into a successful business and has become a source of national pride, a Malaysian success story although there is tough competition from its peers in the airline industry. In fact, a recent industry survey said Air Asia is the most preferred low cost carrier.

The Umno top brass are condoning wanton behavior by Utusan against Air Asia.

The international NGO, Reporters without Borders, which publishes an annual survey of the degree of freedom of press in the countries it monitors, lists Malaysia at number146 out of 179 countries surveyed in 2013.

Malaysia is  rated behind even turbulent Bangladesh, which is 145th in the world list.

I urge Azran not to apologize to Utusan.

The paper and UMNO can do whatever they want but at the end of a long day,  the ordinary people will support Air Asia, just as the majority of Malaysian voters supported Pakatan Rakyat, though it was Umno-BN that won a disputed election.

I will raise this issue when the 13th Parliament opens its inaugural session which is scheduled to begin June 24.

I urge Malaysians to stand by Azran and to give Air Asia our fullest support.


  1. You can raise anything in Parliament as long as you can get cheap publicity. We are going to boycott Air Asia any way.

  2. Utusan, fit for the trash bin.