The Malay Mail is a newspaper in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, first published on 1 December 1896 when Kuala Lumpur was the capital of the then new Federated Malay States, making it the first daily to appear in the FMS. It is a free lunchtime paper with 100,000 copies circulated around the Klang Valley. Main target audience are Professionals, Managers, Executives and Businessmen (PMEBs).
The newspaper was an afternoon edition which focuses on the local happenings and was promoted as “The Paper That Cares”. It was common to find local community news making the headlines. The paper also had featured a “Page 3 Girl” and was not taken too seriously as it had the image of a tabloid with the printing of many unsubstantiated news articles. The newspaper had a commanding presence in classified ads and in the 1990s it was common to find almost half the newspapers comprising classified ads.
In 1997, the Malay Mail was the NSTP Berhad's single most profitable unit through its grip on classifieds which, in the nature of a virtuous cycle, actually intensified its popularity.
When the Asian financial crisis broke in 1998, another daily newspaper, The Star offered huge discounts to property agents and car dealers – the ones most affected by the crisis. The Malay Mail could not, or would not, offer such rebates – and it prompted a shift to The Star with the Malay Mail losing its position as the leading classifieds newspaper. Once readers moved, The Star′s massive circulation ensured that they would stay, and the Malay Mail′s circulation plummeted.
The Malay Mail was linked to another daily newspaper, the New Straits Times via its holding company, NSTP Berhad.
During the turn of the millennium, the New Straits Times was facing increasing competition from another daily newspaper, The Star. At the time, NSTP Berhad had a whole range of newspapers including New Straits Times, the New Sunday Times, the Malay Mail, the Sunday Mail, the Berita Harian and its Sunday edition Berita Minggu and the late-morning Malay-language tabloids Harian Metro and Metro Ahad.
A strategic decision was made to focus on only one English newspaper, which was the New Straits Times. On 1 September 2004, the New Straits Times introduced the publishing of two versions of the newspaper – a tabloid-size daily along with the broadsheet format. This signalled their intention to go head-on with The Star which printed tabloid-sized newspapers. The more senior reporters from the Malay Mail were transferred to the New Straits Times and the nationwide circulation of the Malay Mail was reduced and limited to Klang Valley.
In early 2005, plans were unveiled to change the direction of the paper and has offered voluntary separation scheme to senior writers and journalists of the Malay Mail. Its former weekend edition, The Sunday Mail, published its last edition on 8 May 2005. After some experiments that went awry in 2006 and 2007, the NSTP decided to sell the paper to Media Prima Berhad.
The newspaper’s circulation has slid from its peak of over 60,000 in the mid-1980s. Advertising revenue has kept in step, plummeting to RM10 million annually from its peak of RM70 million in 1997. Advertising revenue has since been declining and the business has been reporting losses.
Media Prima Berhad relaunched the Malay Mail on 5 May 2008 as a free afternoon paper but still failed to turn around the losses. The Malay Mail was then again sold in 2009 by Media Prima Berhad to the Redberry Group, a subsidiary of the listed Ancom Berhad spearheaded by Dato’ Siew Ka Wei for his attempt at the same task.
Under a new management, it was re-launched as a mainstream, morning paid daily on 30 January 2012 and is now circulated throughout Peninsula Malaysia. It had a cover price of RM1.
On 8 November 2005, the Weekend Mail was suspended by the Internal Security Ministry for breaching guidelines and conditions under the Printing and Presses Act 1984 (Act 301). This was because the "reports and photographs in the paper's November 4–5 issue focusing on sex and sexual issues were contrary to values practised by Malaysians."