Perhaps the most controversial newspaper in the country, Utusan Malaysia has also one of the highest readership numbers in Malaysia.
In 2009, according to ABC or Audit Bureau of Circulation, the circulation is at 169,548 for the Bahasa Malaysia language daily. The newspaper is deemed controversial due to its link of being part of Umno, the largest component party of Barisan Nasional and the ruling government of Malaysia.
In many ways, Utusan Malaysia very much shaped the media industry in the country to what it is today. The daily began operations in 1939 in Singapore when it was known as Utusan Melayu. It was launched and presented in broadsheet format.
Since then, the columnists and editors have been known to have the penchant to be very outspoken. After all, Utusan Malaysia has been perceived and in some quarters expected to be championing the rights of the Malay community against the non-Malay community.
Besides that, Utusan Malaysia has also been seen to be biased in its reporting in its rally towards the Ketuanan Melayu concept. This is often done without any clarification or verification at times. In fact, Utusan’s headlines have often invoked controversy but no explanation or further clarification were given.
In recent years, Utusan Malaysia has been spearheading and promoting various issues that many thought were sensitive issues including rallying for a 1Melayu, 1Bumi movement which was in contrast to the 1Malaysia concept as mooted by the Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the fifth prime minister of Malaysia. Minimal efforts have been put in to try and diffuse such claims while Utusan Malaysia has continued with its reporting to present day.
As a printed mass media in Malaysia, Utusan Malaysia published not only political news or current affairs. Despite its many sections that include entertainment, fashion and technology, the public’s perception has not changed much. This is because such segments are usually not the popular sections.
Being fully owned by Umno, the largest Malay-based party in Barisan Nasional, it is often seen as a mouthpiece and a propaganda tool for the party and its leaders. This has not offered much respite for the publication. However, with its high circulation numbers and print-runs, Utusan Malaysia would have no qualms in continuing its practice which has been very well-received by many (mostly party members) in the community.