Missing in Action.The AGM took place without the Deputy Chairman**. The Chairman informed the shareholders that the Deputy Chairman had been told to rest his neck after a recent back op in Singapore. The Group Editor-In-Chief*** was still at the Pantai Hospital's CCU after a by-pass surgery.
A. Kadir Jasin, a shareholder, observed that the Deputy Chairman was able to write "a long piece on Ijok (by-election)" despite being unwell. The Chairman responded that the doctors' order had come more recently and that the Deputy Chairman was now in Pantai Hospital resting, a fact that can easily be verified, he added.
The Malay Mail and the J Curve theory. In his power-point presentation on the group's showing last year and the encouraging 1st quarter results released yesterday, however, not a word on the Malay Mail/Weekend Mail. I asked him why. I said the Malay Mail was the Harian Metro of the Eighties for the NSTP, the group's cash cow and today it was not mentioned at all. The Malay Mail and the Weekend Mail were also very much in the news last year, although for the wrong reasons. The paper, helmed by the CEO himself, went through a revamp which cost reportedly US$1 million. Then it published the Nov 4/5 issue that got the Weekend Mail suspended for about three months. I asked:
a. What lessons were learnt from these?
b. Was there going to be greater accountability as a result of what had befallen the Mail, other than the removal of the editor of the paper then?
c. How much did the group lose as a result of the misadventure?
The CEO said the company spent only RM200,000 on the study to revamp the Malay Mail/Weekend Mail early last year. Many lessons were learnt. "We even apologised," he said. The Weekend Mail was suspended, he added. "It shouldn't have happened but it did." Another lesson learnt: he said they have been bringing back the hard news ("we discovered that the young wanted to read hard news too] to the Mail.
He spoke of the J Curve theory and how it will take years to get the Mail right.
Kadir Jasin retorted that if the Mail continued to lose money despite the revamp, the directors should consider hiving it off. Director Rahman said the group will consider selling if all else fails. "We are still committed towards turning around the paper".
Paying for the Plaintiffs
Kadir Jasin asked if the NSTP was paying for the Plaintiffs in the lawsuits against two bloggers [NSTP and 4 others vs Rocky and NSTP and 3 others vs Jeff Ooi] and a lawyer (Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan vs Matthias Chang]. He also asked how much the bills have come up to and if the company was also paying the legal bills for an ex-employee involved in the suits [former group editor Brenden a/l Pereira is a plaintiff in both the suits against Jeff and I].
The CEO* confirmed that the NSTP is footing the bills for ALL the Plaintiffs as they were all associated with the group. He also said the NSTP has to date spent RM70,000 only on their legal fees.
*The 4th Plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit against this blogger by the NSTP and 4 Others
** The 2nd Plaintiff in the same lawsuit
*** The 3rd Plaintiff in the same lawsuit