‘Utusan board of directors work as Umno’s reps’

Anisah Shukry | August 13, 2012
Utusan editor-in-chief in Anwar's defamation suit named two Utusan board members as Umno representatives.
KUALA LUMPUR: Utusan editor-in-chief Abdul Aziz Ishak admitted to the court today that several members of the broadsheet’s board of directors were working in the capacity of Umno representatives.
Earlier today, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim had claimed that Utusan board member Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad was Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s representative.
“Generally I agree [that a member of the board of directors is a representative of the Umno president], but I don’t see him as the prime minister’s representative,” Abdul Aziz told the court today when questioned by Anwar’s lawyer N Surendran.
“I know about him, but he is not working in the capacity of the prime minister’s [representative]. He is working in the capacity of Umno [representative].”
When asked who exactly Abdul Aziz was referring to, he replied he wasn’t sure as there were “several names”.
“Tan Sri Haji Hussein Ahmad. I view him as one of Umno’s representatives,” he said when shown a list of the Utusan’s board of directors.
He also agreed that he “viewed” Sarrifuddin as an Umno representative as well.
In January, Anwar had filed a RM50 million suit against Utusan and Abdul Aziz for allegedly implying that he wanted to legalise homosexuality.
The Utusan front-page article, published on Jan 15, referred to a BBC report and alleged he had said the laws on homosexuality in Malaysia were “archaic” and “not relevant”.
The articles were titled “Tolak Anwar-Hassan” (Reject Anwar-Hassan) and “Parasit ancam PAS, Anwar mesti ditolak’ (PAS threatened by parasites, Anwar must be rejected).
Anwar had said the defendants had falsely and maliciously printed words defamatory of him, and claimed that this was due to the fact that the broadsheet was Umno-owned.
Reps carry Umno’s aspirations

Abdul Aziz denied that the representatives interfered with the newspaper’s editorial board, saying that their role was to merely “carry the party’s aspirations”.
But at the same time, he agreed with Surendran’s suggestion that Utusan did not provide balanced reporting when covering political issues.
“I agree. [But] I prefer the phrase ‘carrying the party’s aspirations’,” he responded to the suggestion.
But he also agreed that it was the duty of a newspaper to provide balanced reporting.
He maintained that he was confident the two articles, which he was personally responsible for approving, were “completely true”.
“Our principle is that we are confident of the truth which we publish,” he told the court.
“I have confidence that what Datuk Hasan Ali said [as reported in the article] was true,” he added.
The hearing resumes on Oct 23.

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