Malaysian Insider headline: NUJ president found guilty of tarnishing Utusan.
NUJ president found guilty of tarnishing Utusan
By Melissa Chi, The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Hata Wahari was found guilty today of all eight counts of tarnishing the image of his employer Utusan Malaysia.
He told The Malaysian Insider that the “punishment” will be decided by the Umno-owned newspaper’s top management and he will be informed in a fortnight.
“I am prepared for the worst,” he said, referring to the possibility he might be sacked.
“I will leave it to the top management to decide but I don’t know what to say,” he said when asked what he thinks the punishment might be.
The senior journalist said he was still an Utusan Malaysia employee until notified otherwise, although he has been suspended since January 11 pending the disposal of the domestic inquiry.
The decision on the inquiry was read out this morning by committee chairman Mohd Basir Abdul Rahim, with NUJ-Utusan chairman Taufik Razak and its executive councillor, Hayat Sueet, present as well.
Hata had been accused of insulting Utusan’s management and tarnishing Utusan’s image through statements he issued to various news portals between September 21 and October 14 last year.
He had caused a stir when he urged the authorities to act against Utusan’s editors for stoking racial sentiment in its reports.
He had also blamed the drop in the national daily’s sales on the editors for pushing what he called racial rhetoric.
Hata was issued with a notice on December 27 last year, ordering him to appear before the domestic inquiry, which was scheduled to begin on January 6 at the company’s headquarters in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
He was later issued a suspension letter on January 11, stating that the senior reporter would be denied entry into any Utusan office throughout the course of the inquiry unless given permission from the company management.
The inquiry was first postponed from January 19 to January 25, and was postponed again because Hata was hospitalised for chest pains.
It was postponed yet again from February 9 because of his medical check-up and finally held on March 1 and March 10.
The Malaysian Insider reported that Hata had announced he would start a new newspaper if he was sacked by his current employer.
Hata said he had presented the newspaper called Utusan Rakyat to both PKR and Umno, adding that the newspaper would be non-partisan.
However, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar had also come up with the same name for a similar project of her own, naming Hata as its chief editor.
Hata said he then decided to rename his project Harian Malaysia and turn it into an online paper.
He said he was working on it with his brother, a graphic designer, but said that it was still in its infancy.
Utusan Malaysia had also dismissed in 2009 its NUJ branch head Amran Ahmad, who said the newspaper had accused him of being a DAP agent.
Umno took over ownership of the Malay-language broadsheet in 1961. Hata said that before that, it was still credible and objective.