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MGG: ... And Another Daim Appointee Is On The Skids
By M.G.G. Pillai

9/10/2001 12:21 pm Tue

The Attorney-General, Datin Ainum Mohamed Said, first went on leave for one-month, which later became two. There is nothing unusual about it, except that it was not announced. When officials go on leave without any announcement for as long as this, Bolehland's favourite news agency, Rumour, fills in the silence of the official media. At first sight, when I first heard of it last night, after a friend of her's called me, I did not know about the leave or the rumour that she was under investigation.

But when I checked around, there seems to be some connexion between the de facto Law Minister, Dato' Rais Yatim's confirmation she is on two months' leave and his refusal to confirm or deny the rumours of investigations in the Securities Commission involving the period she was its deputy chief executive. When he then said he was now in charge of the Attorney-General's Chambers, the rumours were all but confirmed; normally when the Attorney-General goes on leave, it is not the minister who takes over but the most senior official in the Chambers. So, why is he in charge?

Dato' Rais' evasive answers indicated that he was not exactly telling the "the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the whole truth". That the newspapers this morning (08 October 2001) mentions the Securities Commission probe, even to deny it, does suggest that the lady is prepared for burning. She is a Daim nominee and Daim nominees are hunted down in the Bolehland political climate as the Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Mahathir Mohamed, goes after Tun Daim Zainuddin's cronies after the latter resigned as finance minister three months ago. Curiously enough, he was also on leave for two months before he was removed.

He left the country's finances in the lurch, ran down UMNO's investments of several billion ringgit into a debt approaching one billion in a way that it could not ever be repaid. I understand that his cronies are investigated with the proverbial fine tooth comb. No one thought this would have touched the Attorney-General, for she has remained above the political battle, and all accounts I have heard of her short period in office is like a breath of fresh air after the moribund and lapdog leadership of her predecessor and chief justice wannabe, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah.

So, something is cooking. This is the second story of this type to hit Malaysians. The first was the unfortunate story of the Yang Dipertuan Agung's death. That certainly was not true. As Mark Twain once responded when newspapers announced his death: "the reports of my death are exaggerated." So it was here. When the authorities are unforgiving when reporters break an embargo and get it wrong, the music channel, Radio Era, of Astro, is forgiven. So, the death was an exaggeration, but the minor ailment he had minor surgery in Singapore is anything but. Dato' Seri Mahathir has called on him, so has his brother rulers, and sundry mentris besar and cabinet ministers. When such events in the imperial reign of the Prime Minister are consigned to the inside pages, the minor surgery is front page news. Of course, I may be reading too much into this, but something more than we are told bothers His Majesty.

That is the power of rumour. In Malaysia, rumours are often more reliable than the official truth. Was the just arrested former deputy prime minister, Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, beaten up after his arrest. Of course not, said any one in a position to know. Yet, the reality was that he was beaten up by none other than the Inspector-General of Police himself. Is the late Sultan of Kelantan, then Yang Dipertuan Agung, well, I asked the Comptroller of the Royal Household in the 1970s. Yes, he is, I was assured. Going past the Istana Negara a few hours later, I saw the Royal Standard at half mast. I called again. When I got the same answer, I asked about the half mast. The phone was slammed down.

The BBC, for whom I then worked, carried the story in its main news broadcast 20 minutes later. That was how many Malaysians heard of the death of their head of state. It was hours later before it was formally announced. I was later told that the then deputy king was overseas, and he had to be contacted before the announcement could be made. But when that is made known with a blatant lie, rumours Berhad gets an importance it should not. So, would Dato' Rais Yatim say more than the fig leaf of information he has given about the Attorney-General. Not that I would expect him to, since he believes his presence in the government also requires him to fudge the truth, if not lie.

M.G.G. Pillai